Workers shovel sand at a public school building construction in Mandaluyong City Metro Manila November 28, 2012. (MNS photo)

MANILA, Nov 28 (Mabuhay) – The Philippines still has plenty of room to grow in terms of its infrastructure, Finance Secretary Cesar V. Purisima said after construction boosted economic expansion in the third quarter.

“I think there’s still a lot of improvement at the area of infrastructure, both funded out of the government budget and those under PPP (public-private partnership) program,” Purisima said.

“As you know we’ve been focused on improving government expenditure and the statistics show it was one of the drivers of growth for the third quarter. The more important thing is that the private sector also stepped up construction expenditure,” the finance chief added.

The economy grew a surprising 7.1% in the third quarter, exceeding market and government expectations and bringing nine-month growth to 6.5%, above the full-year target of 5-6%.

Socioeconomic planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said on Wednesday the country may very well see 2012 gross domestic product growth surpassing the target.

Purisima said the government plans to focus on the “basics” in 2013, hoping to continue the momentum of growth felt this year.

“That is to make sure we continue to implement sustainability programs, maintain macroeconomic stability, and continue to invest in infrastructure,” Purisima said.

“We will also improve our processes to continue to make it easier for people to do business in the Philippines,” he added.

Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, in a statement on Wednesday, said the government hopes robust domestic consumption, along with continuous public spending, will continue to buoy the economy in the last quarter of the year.

“We are optimistic that our fourth-quarter growth will remain as energetic. Public consumption will most definitely stay robust, fueled by high consumption levels during the holidays, continuing investments in public and private infrastructure, and the kick-start of election-related spending this Christmas season,” Abad said. (MNS)