MANILA – The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) is positive the country will hit the low end of its economic growth target at 6 percent by the end of the year.
“For the year, ang expectation namin is we will hit the low end of the target. If not, close to it (our expectation is that we will hit the low end of the target. If not, close to it). The low end of the growth target is at 6 percent, so either a 6 or very close to that,” NEDA Undersecretary Rosemarie Edillon said at the Saturday News Forum in Quezon City.
The Philippine economy posted the strongest third-quarter growth of 5.9 percent among major Asian economies, bringing the gross domestic product (GDP) expansion for the first nine months of 2023 to 5.5 percent.
Vietnam recorded 5.3 percent, Indonesia and China 4.9 percent, and Malaysia 3.3 percent during the third quarter.
Looking at the Purchasing Manager's Index (PMI) as one indicator, Edillon said she is optimistic the GDP forecast is achievable.
She also noted the October unemployment data, which fell to 4.2 percent from 4.5 percent during the same month last year.
“Nakita namin na maganda rin naman ang employment numbers natin at ‘yung PMI, nakita namin na mataas pa rin naman siya (We saw that the employment numbers and the PMI are high),” she said. “We are actually hopeful for the rest of the year but especially going forward.”
Edillon said they observed a rise in the number of jobs generated in accommodation establishments, restaurants, transportation, and the information technology - business process outsourcing fields.
She also pointed out the gradual recovery of sectors severely hit by the pandemic, especially the tourism industry, which already surpassed its targeted 4.8 million foreign visitors.
Before the pandemic, the tourism industry’s share in the country’s GDP was estimated at 12.7 percent.
In the same forum, she took note of the improving inflation rate, which further eased to 4.1 percent in November from 4.9 percent in October.
Food inflation at the national level decelerated further to 5.8 percent in November 2023 from 7.1 percent the previous month.
“(M)agandang balita ito kasi, especially iyong mga food item na binabantayan natin -- kunwari iyong pork meat, iyong sugar, iyong mga vegetables -- bumaba po iyong presyo nitong mga ito (This is good news, especially with regard to the food items that we are monitoring – the prices of pork meat, sugar, and vegetable went down),” she said.
Edillon said the cost of rice still rose but this could be attributed to the slowdown in importation due to tightening supply in the world market.
“Iyong sa ibang mga bansa, nag-i-expect kasi sila ng impact ng El Niño. Pero ang tingin naman namin, dahil we think that they have been prepared for this so mukhang it will correct actually (Other countries are bracing for the impact of El Niño. But we think because they’re already prepared for it, it will be corrected eventually),” she said.
Still, she said she believes the price cap imposed by President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. in September contributed to the lower inflation rate.
“Itong mga presyo na ito was actually as of November at alam naman natin na towards the end of September at saka October, nagkaroon na rin ng anihan. So, yes, naghalo-halo na po itong mga factor na ito (These prices were actually as of November and we know that it was harvest season towards the end of September and October. So, yes, these are combined factors),” Edillon said. (PNA)