THE Philippine economy is projected to grow at a faster pace this year because of government’s infrastructure drive and improved exports, according to an IHS Markit economist.

In an email to The Manila Times, IHS Markit Asia-Pacific chief economist Rajiv Biswas said the country’s “GDP (gross domestic product) growth momentum is forecast to strengthen to 6.1 percent in 2020, helped by stronger exports as improving global electronics orders and the US-China ‘phase one’ trade deal [would] support Philippines exports [amid the] continued ramping-up of the Duterte administration’s Build, Build, Build infrastructure program.”

The figure mirrors that projected by the World Bank and is slightly lower than the Asian Development Bank’s forecast of 6.2 percent.

The projection comes before the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) releases official fourth quarter and full-year 2019 GDP on Thursday, January 23.

Philippine economic growth accelerated to 6.2 percent in the third quarter of 2019, higher than the slower-than-expected 5.6-percent and 5.5-percent expansions in the first and the second, respectively. The July-to-September figure is also higher than the 6.0 percent recorded in the same quarter in 2019.

Household consumption, which grew by 5.9 percent, was identified as a key growth driver.

According to Biswas, the Philippine economy was forecast to grow to 6.3 percent in the fourth quarter, bringing full-year 2019 growth to 6.0 percent, the lower end of the government’s growth goal range of 6.0 to 6.5 percent.

“Growth momentum in 2019 was underpinned by continued strong growth in private consumption spending, helped by firm growth in inward remittances from workers abroad as well as continued expansion in government infrastructure spending,” the economist explained.

“Growth in the second half of 2019 has been boosted by a rebound in fiscal spending, following the delayed [approval of the 2019 national budget] and spending freeze ahead of the 2019 midterm elections,” he added.