More Filipino consumers were optimistic about the economy and the outlook for household incomes and employment in the first quarter of the year, according to the results of the central bank’s latest Consumer Expectations Survey (CES).
In a press briefing on Friday, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) announced that the overall confidence index (CI) in the first quarter of 2014 improved to minus 18.8 percent from minus 21.3 percent in the fourth quarter of 2013.
CI is computed as a percentage of households that answered in the affirmative minus the percentage of those that answered in the negative with respect to their views on a given indicator.
“The higher (but still negative) CI in the first quarter means that the number of the households with an optimistic outlook increased but they continued to be outnumbered by those who think otherwise,” the central bank said.
Respondents attributed the availability of more jobs, increased number of employed family members, more investment prospects, higher income, stronger business activity and good harvests for their improved sentiment.
Meanwhile, for the next quarter and the year ahead, the survey showed that consumer sentiment is much more bullish with the index at 5.4 percent and 19.3 percent, respectively.
Consumers cited more financial support from family members as employment opportunities are expected to be better. They also noted the continued implementation of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, or the government’s cash dole scheme for the poor, as well as good governance as the reasons for their upbeat outlook.
Nicholas Antonio Mapa, associate economist at the Bank of the Philippine Islands, said that the survey results are in line with most analysts’ forecast for strong growth in the Philippine economy.
Mapa said that although growth may slow from the 7.2 percent pace in 2013, the country is still expected to see the fastest growth within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations bloc.
“The Filipino consumers wield potent buying power, boosted by overseas Filipinos’ remittances from abroad as well as rising incomes and a young working age population,” he explained.
Mapa also noted that the central bank is still able to keep interest rates at historic lows, which will continue to help boost both consumption momentum and possibly even investments.
The CES is a quarterly survey of households drawn from the National Statistics Office’s Master Sample List of Households, which is considered a representative sample of households nationwide. The survey was conducted from January 21 to February 3, 2014 and surveyed 5,870 households nationwide.