PGMA sees stronger economy in 2010

March 3, 2010 10:23 pm 

MANILA, March 3 — President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo said on Wednesday the country’s economic growth will accelerate this year even as she completes all the major projects started during her nine-year term.

“I will leave the nation in better shape. I am confident of the future,” she told the business community and members of the diplomatic corps who attended this morning’s annual Philippine economic briefing at the Dusit Thani Hotel in Makati organized by the Investor Relations Office (IRO), which handles the concerns of different stakeholders of the country’s economic team.

Government sources, particularly the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, also made the same observations that the economy, which grew by 0.9 percent last year, is expected to grow faster at between 2.6 percent and 3.6 percent while inflation is expected to range between 3.5 percent and 5.5 percent.

The President said that when she assumed the presidency nine years ago, inflation stood at 7.5 percent; the balance of payments (BOP) was at $ 2.02 billion; the ratio of external debt to gross domestic product (GDP) or how much of the country’s total goods and services annually go into servicing the debt, 72 percent; and unemployment at 20 percent.

Today, inflation is stable at 2.9 percent; the BOP stands at $ 5 billion; external debt-to-GDP ratio is down to 34 percent; and unemployment is single-digit at seven percent.

The President also noted the foreign exchange rate was strengthened by 19 percent during her administration. In contrast, the peso started out in 1970 at P3.94 to the dollar under the Marcos administration and slid further to P22.05 in 1986. This was also true for the Aquino administration, which saw the peso’s value drop by 14 percent; the Ramos administration, 14 percent, and the Estrada administration, 39 percent.

Because it was economically sound, the President said the Philippines was one of only four countries in Asia which escaped recession brought about by the 2008 global financial crisis.

“We had to make tough and unpopular decisions to keep the economy ahead,” the President said, including the passage of the 12 percent expanded value added tax, which generated P80 billion in its first full year of implementation in 2007 and passage of so-called sin taxes for cigarettes and liquor.

The President also deferred plans toward balancing the budget this year as she saw the need for government to pump-prime the economy last year with P330 billion to create jobs and sustain economic and business activity in the face of the global economic crisis.

As a result, the government posted a budget deficit of P298.5 billion last year, or the equivalent of 3.9 percent of GDP.

In her speech, the President congratulated Finance Secretary Margarito Teves and Bureau of Internal Revenue Commissioner Joel Tan-Torres for exceeding target collections since Tan-Torres was appointed in December 2009.

The President also thanked former Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap for his efforts in generating 1.8 million jobs, which is higher, she said, than the targeted one million jobs. (PNA)



Comments are closed.