Economy could grow 4.7 percent in 2009: Recto

Published by rudy Date posted on January 18, 2009

Economic growth of 4.7 percent in the Philippines is possible this year as long as the government spends money to get it through the global turmoil, a senior economics minister said Friday.

The Philippines posted about 4.6 percent growth in 2008 despite high oil and rice prices the world credit crisis, said Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ralph Recto.

This year, the economy is projected to grow by between 3.7 and 4.7 percent.

“If we do the plan, we can hit the higher end of the (growth) range,” Recto said at a business forum on economic prospects.

President Gloria Arroyo has asked Congress to approve a 300 billion-peso (6.4 billion-dollar) stimulus package to help the Philippines spend its way out of the downturn.

Recto and other Arroyo economic aides said the country was weathering the global crisis well, with surpluses in the balance of payments and gross international reserves, while remittances from overseas workers growing.

The banking system remained secure and inflation was going down as the price of fuel and food also fell, the officials remarked.

The government plan for sustaining growth this year includes large-scale public spending in the first half of the year, particularly on infrastructure and social services.

Recto said there would be 150 billion pesos in public investment this year alone, mostly in the first half so the money could trickle down faster.

Finance Secretary Margarito Teves said revenue collection efforts would be stepped up, with a crackdown on tax evaders and smugglers, while improving the efficiency of the internal revenue and customs bureaus.

Teves also urged Congress to pass a bill raising the excise taxes on tobacco and liquor products to help finance the spending plan.

Trade Secretary Peter Favila said that despite the crisis, which has seen exports in the key electronics sector plunge, food and marine product shipments as well as investment in outsourced businesses were still growing.

Citibank country manager Sanjiv Vohra said the government’s plan had a great chance of success, adding that compared with other countries, “the Philippines is in a position of strength.” –Agence France-Presse

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