DOF sees 7% GDP growth in Q1

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MANILA -- Strong agriculture and manufacturing growth likely buoyed gross domestic product (GDP) expansion in the first quarter by about 7 percent, the Department of Finance’s chief economist said Tuesday, May 16.

Finance Undersecretary Gil S. Beltran told reporters on the sidelines of the Treasury bonds auction that his conservative forecast of at least 7-percent GDP growth during the first three months was on the back of recovery in the agriculture sector coupled with robust manufacturing output.

The government reported Monday that Philippine agricultural production revved up by 5.3 percent year-on-year in the first quarter to reach P203.1 billion at constant prices, recovering from a low base seen amid destructive weather conditions in 2016.

Farm output grew after two consecutive quarters of decline — by 1.1 percent in the fourth quarter of 2016 and 2.3 percent in the third quarter, the latest Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) data showed.

As for manufacturing, the PSA reported last week that it sustained double-digit expansion for the second straight month in March.

Beltran’s forecast was within the government’s full-year GDP growth target of 6.5-7.5 percent.

The government will announce the country’s first-quarter economic performance on Thursday.

Beltran said about 7-percent growth was sustainable as the government was “putting the fundamentals in good shape.”

Beltran, the government was working to ensure that the targeted wider budget deficit of 3 percent will be met while inflation will be within the target range of 2-4 percent.

“If you’ll maintain those fundamentals, you’ll never go wrong. Growth can be as high as you can imagine,” Beltran said. –