• Transport-related projects can boost GDP growth

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    Spending from the construction sector and government can boost the country’s economic performance for 2014, according to Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan.

    Besides the potentials of the manufacturing sector, Balisacan said that the construction sector could grow, particularly from transport-related projects under the public-private partnership (PPP), as well as from the reconstruction efforts in areas hit by Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan).

    “The construction of major infrastructure projects, particularly in the transport sector, is expected to add fuel to the growth this year and beyond,” said Balisacan, who is also the director general of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).

    The reconstruction and rehabilitation of Central and Eastern Visayas would also ramp up government spending, as the government allotted P100 billion in the national budget for that, and overall appropriations for the Reconstruction Assistance on Yolanda Plan is P361 billion.

    He also said that the agriculture sector is seen expanding, as the government is working on the linkage of agri-business with the manufacturing sector to increase value added, which was an indicated “key strategy” in the Philippine Development Plan (PDP) midterm update.

    “We remain keen on the domestic and external challenges that the economy is facing.

    We are also aware that growth remains uneven, as some areas have higher growth potentials than others. The strategies in the updated PDP take cognizance of the spatial dimensions of development in our pursuit of poverty reduction,” Balisacan said.

    He noted that the country is prone to natural disasters. That is why the government “strengthened strategies to improve disaster resilience.”

    “In 2013, the combined impact of typhoons and other natural disasters that hit the country may have reduced the full-year real GDP growth by at least 0.1-percentage point,” Balisacan said.

    “But we will continue to be on the lookout for opportunities and remain watchful of threats to be able to sustain our growth momentum,” he added.

    The NEDA chief said that the fourth quarter and full-year 2013 GDP growth figures “surpassed expectations.” The Philippine economy in the fourth quarter of last year grew by 6.5 percent, and by 7.2 percent for the whole year, driven mainly by the services and industry sectors. Manufacturing made a significant contribution.

    The country’s GDP would have grown by 7.3 percent in 2013 if it were not for the natural disasters that hit the Philippines last year.

    Balisacan said that the Philippines was one of the top performing economies in the world, second to China that grew 7.7 percent last year.

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