MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine economy, as measured by the gross domestic product (GDP), may grow between 3.8 percent and 4.3 percent this year, an economist from the University of Asia and the Pacific (UAP) told an economic forum yesterday.
In the forum organized by the Bank of Commerce, economist Ramon Quesada said growth would continue to come from dollar remittances from overseas Filipino workers which are expected to hit a range of $15.8 billion to $16.4 billion this year and also from the growth of local industries.
Exports, he said, would continue to contract by three percent, more optimistic than the official projection for exports which is a contraction of eight percent. Similarly, he said imports could contract by 1.5 percent this year.
Agriculture, meanwhile, is likely to grow by three percent while the industry sector’s growth is projected at 3.6 percent. The growth of the service sector is expected at 4.8 percent this year.
The government, for its part, revised downward its economic growth forecast for 2009 to 3.7 percent to 4.4 percent from a previous assumption of 3.7 percent to 4.7 percent for the year.
Under the revised GDP growth assumption, agriculture is projected to grow from 3 percent to 3.6 percent and the industry sector from 3.9 percent to 4.7 percent.
The services sector is projected to grow from 3.8 percent to 4.5 percent.
Nonetheless, Quesada said the country would survive 2009 and that “there is light at the end of the tunnel.”
This, he said, would be possible as long as the government fulfills its plan to spend more this year.
Furthermore, Quesada said the government should be promoting various industries across the different regions in the country.
These include agriculture, business process outsourcing, education, entertainment, health, telecommunications, personal care, real estate, franchising, trade and mining.
He said these industries, if given enough government support, would help boost the domestic economy.
Government economic managers said there is a need to revise downward the government’s 2009 GDP growth projection for the year because of the impact of the global financial turmoil on the country.
Last year, the Philippine economy’s expansion slowed to 4.6 percent from 2007’s 7.1 percent, the highest in three decades.- Iris C. Gonzales, Philippine Star