According to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) on its report yesterday, the country’s GDP or Gross Domestic Product grew by 6.3 percent on the last quarter of 2015. For the whole of 2015, the country’s economy grew by 5.8 percent lower than the government’s 7 to 8 percent target.
Despite this result, the Philippines is still considered one of the fastest growing economies in Asia next to India, China and Vietnam.
Former Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balicasan said that this growth is still “respectable” given the difficult external environment, the onset of El Niño and the challenges in Government spending in the first semester. He also said that 6 year 6.2 percent GDP growth average under the Aquino administration is the highest since the late 1970’s.
The PSA said that agriculture in particular contracted by 0.3 percent in the fourth quarter. Industry dropped to 6.8 percent from 9.1 percent.
According to National Statistician Lisa Grace Bersales, agriculture gave the slowest growth for the year. “You can see from the results that slower growth is due largely from agriculture. It actually contracted in the fourth quarter.”
Balicasan points at the agriculture sector being the “biggest road block” to achieve higher economic growth. “There is an urgent need to rethink the development strategy for this sector, especially with the impact of El Niño and natural disasters that hound the country yearly,” Balicasan added.
Another factor for the slower growth was due to exports. “It was a sharp deterioration with imports far exceeding exports,” Balicasan said. “If exports stayed at 2014 levels, this year’s growth would have been stronger,” he said.
The government’s 2016 growth projection according to Balicasan is in the upper range of 6 to 7 percent.
“We have the benefits of research and knowledge about the constraints holding back the economy in reaching higher growth and we can address those. I’ll go for 7 percent growth. We have the fiscal shape, we can aim for higher growth without compromising economic fundamentals,” he added.