Government maintains 2013 growth target

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The government is maintaining the 6-percent to 7-percent growth target for 2013, despite the robust expansion of the economy in the first quarter of the year.

“While we recognize our robust performance in the first quarter, we will continue to be vigilant against downside risks and address critical constraints to maintaining this growth momentum,” said Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan.

Balisacan, also the National Economic and Development Authority director general, added that it is also important to create conditions for sustained growth in other sectors or areas with high growth potential and link the poor to these growth centers.

“We need to get this economic momentum growing . . . so that we could have better job opportunities,” he stated.

Balisacan added that the challenge is to take advantage of the growth, and make it more exclusive by generating more high quality jobs.

“The faster this can be done, the better it will be for the greater number of our people,” he stated.

The Cabinet official also said that the government will put emphasis on innovation, technology, and research and development as well as facilitate the improvement in labor productivity.

“What all these demands is a greater sense of urgency among us in government, as well as better coordination between and among the various agencies charged with implementing programs and projects in order to maximize efficiency and effectiveness,” he explained.

He also stressed that investment grade ratings from Fitch and Standard and Poor’s for the country is an opportunity for the business sector to expand their interests and generate more employment.

“We remain positive in our outlook and we will translate this into positive action to achieve inclusive growth. We hope that the private sector will maintain a positive outlook as well, and translate this into greater participation in the growth process,” he concluded.

In terms of inflation, Balisacan said that consumer prices are not expected to pick up this year as the country’s economy “is moving away increasingly in personal consumption expenditure.”

He added that the determinant of the country’s economic stability is the macroeconomic environment, so the government is still committed to maintaining stability through low and manageable inflation, and sustainable levels of the fiscal deficit and the external performance indicators.

Meanwhile, in a in a text message, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Amando Tetangco said that the central bank remains watchful of any price developments in the country.

“Given the current low baseline inflation projections, we do not foresee a breach of the inflation target over the policy horizon,” Tetangco said.

The BSP is projecting a 3.2-percent full year inflation for 2013.

“The strong first quarter growth is reportedly due to sustained government capital expenditures. This is positive as it should help form the base for more durable growth going forward,” he added, noting that the central bank has ample policy space to address any immediate price pressure that may arise.

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