Typhoon Lando’s impact on economic growth will be minimal even with farm and infrastructure losses in the billions of pesos, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan told reporters.
“For the entire year, the number P7 billion is just 0.6 percent of agricultural value-added. So for the entire GDP (gross domestic product), it’s much more insignificant,” he said.
Balisacan was referring to the damage estimate released on Thursday by the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRMMC). As of 6 a.m. on Friday, the updated toll to farms and infrastructure was pegged at P9.4 billion.
Lando struck the main island of Luzon, particularly the north, last Sunday. The slow-moving storm has killed at least 46 people and displaced hundreds of thousands.
“The important part in terms of GDP is the typhoon’s impact to the people, their lives, their assets and livelihoods. It takes time for them to recover. We have to find alternative jobs for them,” Balisacan said.
In terms of the third quarter, meanwhile, the socioeconomic planning secretary said there were improvements in government spending but a “downside” in the export sector.
“We continue to see the acceleration in spending, that’s a big plus. The downside, I think, is merchandise exports which have been quite lower than we expected,” Balisacan said.
“But exports in services remain to be robust. I think that’s a good thing because our revenues, our foreign exchange revenues are coming from different [countries],” he said.
“About 10 years ago, almost 70 percent of our total exports were simply electronics … but now we have exports of services [adding to revenues].”
Despite GDP growth of just 5.3 percent in the first half, Balisacan said the government was sticking to its full-year goal of 7 percent to 8 percent goal.
“I think the more prudent thing to do is just let the 7 to 8 percent target [stay], but we are not saying that it is achievable. What is the point of changing at this time?,” said Balisacan, who has forecast 2015 economic growth of 6 percent.
Balisacan said he was confident that GDP growth would hit 7 percent to 8 percent next year on the back of robust economic activity as well as election spending.