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Phl economy hit a 35-year high of 7.3% in 2010

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The Philippine economy expanded by 7.3 percent last year, the fastest pace in more than three decades, the government reported this week.

Romulo Virola, secretary general of the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB), said despite the El Niño and the diminished government spending during the second semester, the domestic economy, as measured by gross domestic product (GDP), "sizzled to its highest annual GDP growth in the post Marcos era of 7.3 percent in 2010 from 1.1 percent in 2009."

The 2010 GDP growth was the highest since 1975 at 8.8 percent and surpassed the government's target of between 5 percent and 6 percent.

Virola attributed last year's strong GDP growth to the global economic recovery, higher foreign trade, election related spending and the peaceful national elections.

In 2010, Virola said the industry once again took the driver seat in boosting the economy with its huge 12.1-percent growth from a decline of 0.9 percent the previous year.

Services provided more than able support as it grew by 7.1 percent from 2.8 percent.

However, agriculture, hounded by El Niño, posted a negative 0.5 percent from zero growth in 2009.

In the fourth quarter alone, the GDP grew 7.1 percent from 2.1 percent in the same period in 2009.

Virola said the growth during the last quarter of 2010 came from services, with 3.3 percentage points; industry, 2.7 percentage point and agriculture, fishery and forestry (AFF), 1 percentage point.

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Cayetano Paderanga said domestic demand continued to be an important growth engine for the Philippine economy in 2010.

"However, while personal consumption expenditures remained as the primary growth driver, we also saw investments providing a strong support to growth," Paderanga said.

He said private sector investment in construction and in machinery and equipment resulted in a robust 17 percent growth in gross domestic capital formation. This supported the healthy pace of growth in manufacturing and services.

"Consistent with the robust economic expansion, the labor market also significantly improved, as total employment increased by 2.8 percent and an estimated 983,000 employment was generated in 2010," Paderanga said.

As a result, Paderanga added that the unemployment rate improved to 7.3 percent from 7.5 percent in 2009.

The NEDA chief further said that the greater availability of employment opportunities also lowered the underemployment rate to 18.7 percent in 2010 from 19.1 percent in the previous year, which suggests that workers also benefited from the current economic upturn.

Over the next six years, Padernga said, "we are looking forward to a sustained strong economic performance. This will be built on strengthened partnerships with the private sector as we shift to an investment-led growth."

In order to further expand the economy's productive capacity and provide enough opportunities for a sustainable and inclusive growth, the NEDA chief added the government efforts shall be directed towards an integrated infrastructure program that will support the productive sectors and redound to substantial benefits to society.

"To this end, and given the significant improvements in governance, together with a renewed emphasis on effective delivery of social services, sustaining high levels of growth remain an important aspect in the goal of reducing poverty in the country," he said.

Paderanga said the government is targeting a seven to eight-percent GDP growth this year until 2016 to reduce poverty in the country. (PNA/PIA9-BST)




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