Philippine Economic Growth Eases In First Quarter Of 2017

Philippine Economic Growth Eases In First Quarter Of 2017

The Philippine Statistics Authority said Thursday that gross domestic product expanded a slower-than-expected 6.4% in the January-March quarter from a year earlier, decelerating from a 6.6% gain in the fourth quarter. The rate for the first quarter of 2016, an election year, had been 6.9%.

"The government has also been busy laying down a strong foundation for sustainable and equitable growth with an ambitious infrastructure program, among the many reforms and programs contained in the Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022-[among which] are infrastructure spending and as well as other government programs, including investment in human capital", he said.

"With robust growth and rising inflation, the space for the central bank to maintain its policy stance is closing", said ANZ economist Eugenia Victorino who expects a 50-basis-point hike in rates this year.

According to PSA, the services sector was the main driver of growth among major economic sectors for the quarter as it grew by 6.8 percent. Exports grew 20.3 percent in the first quarter from a year earlier and domestic consumption rose 5.7 percent. Nevertheless, he said, the 6.4% exceeded the growth of neighboring countries, adding that the economy was still on track for the government's 2017 target of 6.5%-7.5% growth.

"We are only second to China's growth of 6.9 percent, while India's number hasn't come out yet", he said. Construction growth slowed to a 0.9% gain from 11% in the previous quarter.

Exports of goods also grew by 22.3 percent, the fastest rate since the third quarter of 2010, Pernia noted.

Meanwhile, the agriculture sector recovered with 4.9 percent growth from a decline of 4.3 percent from the previous year.

Pernia credited Philippine economy's performance during the period to the "recalibration" of government programs and a "changing of the guards", coupled with healthy election-related spending.

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