‘Recession’ bottoming out

Published by rudy Date posted on April 22, 2009

The economic slowdown in the Philippines has started to bottom out and growth will pick up in the third quarter of the year as the impact of the world financial crisis on the country subsides, Economic Planning Secretary Ralph Recto said yesterday.

“We are seeing a bottoming out of the crisis,” said Recto, who is also director-general of the National Economic and Development Authority.

He said the first quarter growth would be the poorest this year and that higher numbers were expected by the third quarter.

Neda said the economy likely grew 2.1 percent to 3.1 percent in the first quarter of 2009, the period that bore the brunt of the global economic downturn.

Recto, speaking at the sidelines of the launch of the Millennium Development Goals Fund Joint Program on Democratic Economic Governance at Dusit Thani Manila Hotel in Makati City, said growth was expected to pick up in the coming quarters. The National Statistical Coordination Board will release the official growth figures for the first quarter in the third week of May.

Recto said the preliminary growth estimate in the first quarter was based on the poor performance of exports and job losses reported during the period.

Merchandise exports fell 40 percent in January and 39 percent in February, as global demand for electronics and garments tumbled amid the lingering financial crisis.

Recto said some 100,000 Filipino workers were also affected by the crisis in the first quarter, with about half losing their jobs because of company closures or retrenchment.

But Recto said the Philippine economy was one of the only few countries that were expected to grow positively, along with China, Indonesia and Brazil.

He said growth would be supported by consumer spending, which rose by an average of 4.5 percent over the past decades. Personal consumption expenditures account for about two-thirds of the GDP in the Philippines.

Recto said he was optimistic the Philippines would achieve its growth target this year as long as remittances continued to grow at the present pace and inflation remained manageable.

He added interest rates had been easing in support of economic expansion.

The Development Budget Coordination Committee earlier said the GDP was expected to grow within a range of 3.1 percent to 4.1 percent in 2009, from a 4.6 percent actual expansion in 2008.

Fitch Ratings, meanwhile, lowered its economic growth forecast for the Philippines this year, saying the global recession would lead to a decline in exports and remittances from Filipino workers overseas.–Roderick T. dela Cruz, Manila Standard Today

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