The country’s growth slowed down in the third quarter and could slide further in the fourth because of the devastation from Super Typhoon Yolanda, the government’s top economic officials reported on Thursday.
National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) Secretary General Jose Ramon Albert and Socio-economic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said the gross domestic product (GDP) for the third quarter slipped to 7 percent from the 7.6 percent in both the first and second quarters.
One of the worst-performing sectors in the third quarter was agriculture, which grew by just 0.3 percent year-on-year.
Albert said this was partly due to damage to farms from 10 typhoons and tropical storms that struck the country during those three months.
Despite the slowdown, Balisacan said the country remains as “the fastest growing economy in Southeast Asia,” second only to China, whose 7.8-percent GDP is the highest in the world.
Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said the government will continue its policy of increased public spending to “help buoy our GDP expansion.”
“With the administration’s ongoing efforts to institute long-term and far-ranging budget reforms, we can look forward to more efficient, high-impact expenditures—with the full cooperation of major implementing agencies, of course—so that the economic gains we are now making will ultimately translate to genuine, substantial benefits to all Filipinos,” Abad said.
Albert said the 7-percent GDP was lower than the 7.3 percent for the same period last year. Growth in the first nine months was 7.4 percent compared to the 6.7 percent in the same period in 2012.
The growth “was driven by the services sector with the robust performance of real estate, renting and business activities, trade and financial intermediation, sustained by the accelerated growth of the industry sector,” Albert said.
The industry sector expanded because of the improvements in manufacturing, while agriculture sector was lifted by the robust growth in forestry, sugarcane, cassava and corn segments.
But the main GDP drivers, industry and services, slackened. Industry was down by 0.3 percent from the first quarter and 1.6 percent from the second.
Agriculture grew by 0.7 percent, a leap from the previous quarter’s negative 0.7 percent. “On the demand side, growth in the third quarter came from increased investments in fixed capital, reinforced by consumer and government spending, and the robust growth in external trade,” Albert said.
The net primary income was 11.9 percent, while the gross national income rose from 7.3 percent in the second quarter to 7.8 percent at in the third.
With population is expected to grow by 1.6 percent to 97.6 million, “per capita GDP grew by 5.2 percent, per capita GNI accelerated by 6 percent while per capita household final consumption expenditures decelerated by 4.5 percent,” Albert said.
“This solid growth demonstrates the continuing resilience of the economy in the face of global economic challenges and natural calamities,” said Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima.
But Yolanda, which hit on November 8, was one of the strongest ever recorded and generated giant storm surges that laid waste to dozens of coastal settlements and vast swathes of farmland throughout central Philippine islands.
More than 5,500 people have been confirmed killed and four million had their homes destroyed or damaged.
With Additional Reports From Joel M. Sy Egco And AFP