Philippine economy hits 7.2% in 2013 despite calamities

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Thursday, January 30, 2014

MANILA -- The Philippines posted higher growth last year despite the devastation wrought by several disasters in the country, officials said Thursday.

The economy grew 6.5 percent in the fourth quarter of 2013, resulting to a full year gross domestic product (GDP) of 7.2 percent, surpassing the official target of 6-7 percent, said Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan in a press conference.

Officer-in-charge National Statistician Carmelita Ericta said the fourth quarter growth was driven by the services sector, particularly, trade and real estate, renting and business activities, and by the accelerated performance of manufacturing.

"On the demand side, sustained consumer and government spending for the whole year buttressed by increased investments in fixed capital formation, particularly in durable equipment, contributed to the healthy GDP growth in 2013," she said.

Balisacan, who is also the director general of the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda), said that growth last year could have been better, had the Philippines not been perturbed by various disasters, such as the magnitude 7.2 Bohol earthquake, the Zamboanga siege and Typhoon Yolanda.

Nonetheless, he stressed that the Philippines remains as one of the best performing economies in the Asian region in the fourth quarter of last year, second only to China, which grew by 7.7 percent.

Balisacan admitted that it could take some time for establishments in typhoon-affected areas to recover assets and regain momentum and this is expected to affect the growth in the first quarter of 2014.

However, he said "we are optimistic that the Philippine economy will remain strong in 2014, especially that the outlook on the global economy is becoming more favorable and as the domestic economy remains robust."

Malacanang welcomed the economic growth last year as the Aquino administration vowed to remain focused on achieving inclusive growth by reducing poverty and increasing social protection.

"We will not only revive and bolster the communities affected by calamities, but together, we will hasten our task of achieving lasting, inclusive growth that leaves no one behind," Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said. (SDR/Sunnex)

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