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GDP goal missed by hairline

Francis Wakefield

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Economic output, measured in gross domestic product (GDP), grew 6.4 percent for the fourth quarter period last year but it still missed the minimum 6 percent expansion goal for last year, Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) data released yesterday showed.

As such, full year GDP growth for 2019 now stands at just 5.9 percent, a tad lower than the government’s 6 percent target and notably lower than last year’s 6.2 percent expansion.

Also, the latest growth figures translates to the slowest rate in the last eight years since GDP print averaged 6.7 percent in 2012.

There should be no cause for worry following reports that the 5.9 percent growth of the country in 2019 is the slowest in eight years, chief presidential legal counsel and spokesman Salvador Panelo said.

“I think we have competent economic managers. They’re doing their job very well,” Panelo told reporters in a press briefing at the Palace.

“Net primary income from the rest of the world and gross national income (GNI) had corresponding growths of 4.6 percent and 6.2 percent. On an annual basis, NPI grew by 3.5 percent and GNI by 5.5 percent,” the agency said.

“With the country’s projected population reaching 108.7 million in the fourth quarter of 2019, per capita GDP grew by 4.8 percent. Meanwhile, per capita GNI and per capita household final consumption expenditure posted a growth of 4.5 percent and 3.9 percent, respectively,” it added.

PSA data showed services among economic sectors to post the fastest growth for the year with 7.9 percent. This was followed by industry at 4.9 percent and agriculture, hunting, forestry and fishing at 1.5 percent.

Budget delay weighs
Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia said that hitting the target would be easy if not for the challenges that hampered the growth momentum.

“I think our estimate before was a full percentage point was lost because of the delay in the passage of the budget so if we just use that again, we could have hit close to if not right smack 7 percent this year. That’s our guess-timate,” Pernia said.

“Moving forward, there are a number of uncertainties that are emerging or will emerge and we still have the current challenges and headwinds that are likely to have an effect on the economy, like the trade tensions, the emergence of middle east crisis, and weather disturbances,” he added.

Despite not being able to reach the target, the country’s top economic officials remained positive that growing at such rate still puts the Philippines at a better position than where it was before.

with Francis T. Wakefield

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