MANILA: The Philippines faces bright economic prospects despite the global slowdown, visiting International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Christine Lagarde said.
“You will be interested to know that this year, 2012, at a very difficult time because of the financial crisis in other parts of the world, the Philippines is probably the only country of which we have increased the growth forecast as opposed to other places in the world where we decreased our forecast,” Lagarde said in a press briefing. The Philippines was the last leg of the IMF chief’s Asian tour.
Malacañang had to cancel her scheduled courtesy call because President Aquino was down with flu. Vice President Jejomar Binay received her instead at his office at the Coconut Palace in Pasay City.
In Friday’s press briefing, Lagarde said the IMF now sees the Philippine economy growing “in excess of five percent” this year and “in the range of five percent” next year or higher than the 4.8 percent forecast for both years under the institution’s latest World Economic Outlook released last month.
The success of governments in providing jobs and livelihood to citizens depends on economic growth.
The IMF’s upgraded forecast, as bared by Lagarde, meets the lower-end of the Aquino administration’s five-to six percent growth target for this year. As of first semester however, the local economy has already breached the target at 6.1 percent.
Lagarde also congratulated the country’s economic managers for their “excellent economic stewardship” which had enabled the local economy to post an average of five percent growth over the past decade.
She also cited the “excellent policy mix” employed by the Department of Finance, which is in charge of raising state revenues, and by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, which sees to it that prices of basic goods and services remain stable.
She acknowledged, however, that much remains to be done to ensure that growth is inclusive, maintaining that about 42 percent of the population can still be considered “poor” as they live with less than $2 a day or roughly P80.
“All the efforts including the cash transfer programme under your stewardship are trying to reduce the inequalities that clearly hamper sustainable growth in the long term,” she said, referring to the P1,200 conditional cash allowance for poor families.
Lagarde also expressed support for the “sin tax” bill, certified as urgent last Thursday by President Aquino.
The Philippine Star