Businessmen welcome fourth-quarter economic rebound, press for inclusive growth

An employee counts Philippine pesos inside a money changer in Manila September 19, 2013. A Philippine official said a weaker peso will benefit Philippine exporters by making their products less expensive and thus more competitive in the global market.

An employee counts Philippine pesos inside a money changer in Manila September 19, 2013. A Philippine official said a weaker peso will benefit Philippine exporters by making their products less expensive and thus more competitive in the global market.

MANILA, Jan 29 (Mabuhay) – The business community is elated over the performance of the Philippine economy in 2014, even as inclusive growth remains a work in progress.

“MBC is pleased with our GDP growth of 6.9 percent in the fourth quarter, pushing 2014 GDP to 6.1 percent, making us 2nd fastest in Asia next to China,” Peter V. Perfecto, Makati Business Club executive director said in a text message.

The government today reported that fourth-quarter gross domestic product reversed the deceleration seen in the first three quarters of last year on the back of robust manufacturing, construction, services, household spending and external trade.

GDP is the amount of final goods and services produced in the country and so measures economic performance.

“Given that the growth is broad-based, featuring expansion in the three major sectors, we believe that this lays the foundations for more robust growth this year, especially in the first quarter [of the year],” Perfecto said.

He said the increase in public and private construction in the fourth quarter of 2014 can help meet this year’s growth goal of at least 7 percent.

“Furthermore, the most expensive PPP projects – airports, subway, Cavite-Laguna Expressway – will be bid out and some even awarded this year, which will drive up construction activities again,” he said.

Henry Schumacher, executive vice president of the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP), said last year’s economic growth was “respectable,” adding that more growth in manufacturing and agriculture through local and foreign investment will be needed to make it sustainable.

“Inclusive growth remains a target,” Schumacher said.

According to Perfecto, inclusive growth is so much more than just hitting the country’s growth targets.

“Inclusive growth requires the rolling out of well-planned and long-term multi-sectoral efforts. I believe that we still continue to work in silos rather than march forward as a nation. Poverty is too big and too complicated a problem to leave to government alone,” Perfecto said.

To sustain this growth momentum, “we need policies that will further boost investor confidence, thereby creating more jobs,” he said.

“Such measures include stable tax regulations and reforms, amendments to BOT Law to facilitate infrastructure projects, as well as a competition policy for improved business environment,” Perfecto said.

“We still believe that easing economic provisions of the Constitution will also enhance the environment for doing business,” he added. (MNS)

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