Q1 GDP growth faster than expected – NEDA

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The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) is optimistic the Philippine economy grew faster than expected in the first quarter of 2014.

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The country’s gross domestic product (GDP) expanded by 6.5 percent year-on-year in the fourth quarter of 2013, and grew 7.7 percent in the first quarter of 2013.

“I hope it will be better than most people expect,” NEDA Director General Arsenio Balisacan told reporters on Wednesday.

Balisacan said to date, the major indicators point to improved economic growth in the first quarter.

“There have been no negative [indicators]so far that could possibly have derailed our growth,” the NEDA chief said.

He cited government spending as an example, which rose 14 percent in the first quarter of the year with actual disbursements of P169.5 billion. Merchandise exports earnings in March sustained double-digit growth at 11.2 percent to $5.2 billion from $4.7 billion a year earlier, he said.

Also seen supporting the economy for the period was the 6 percent rise in remittances from overseas Filipino workers, amounting to $1.99 billion from $1.88 billion in the same month last year.

“We haven’t seen any indication that manufacturing has slowed down. Factory output slowed, but it’s more of the value-added that fell, not the output per se,” Balisacan pointed out, referring to the 1.1 percent contraction in factory output in March.

The stronger peso is also seen supporting the pace of economic growth, with the local currency making the dollar cheaper and giving more purchasing power to local industries.

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