GDP expansion in 2013 seen likely to surpass 6-7% target

The Philippine economy may expand faster than expected this year, sustaining the country's first-quarter robust growth, the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) said yesterday.

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan said that the country's gross domestic product (GDP) may grow above the 6 percent to 7 percent target for this year.

"There's a possibility [that we'll exceed the target] because as of now we're growing 7.8 percent," Balisacan said on the sidelines of the Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC) budget briefing at the House of Representatives.

But while headwinds from the global economy continues, Balisacan said that President Aquino's economic managers are keeping their official growth target of between 6 percent and 7 percent.

In the first-quarter of the year, the Philippines posted the region's fastest annual growth, and was the only nation which received an upwardly revised forecast from the International Monetary Fund.

"We're optimistic we can grow beyond 7 percent this year, but given external risks we maintained the GDP target," Balisacan said.

Economists in a Reuters quarterly poll in July raised their growth forecast for the Philippines to 6.8 percent from 5.9 percent in April, after the economy expanded by a stronger-than-expected annual rate of 7.8 percent in the first quarter.

In the second-quarter, the government is hopeful that the country's economy grew faster than target or matched the 7.8 percent expansion as of March.

Analysts say the country's prospects remain bright because robust domestic demand and lower exposure to slumping global trade than its neighbors were likely to offset the impact of emerging market volatility and possible capital flight once the US Federal Reserve begins to taper its stimulus program.

The government expects growth to accelerate to a range of 6.5 percent to 7.5 percent in 2014.

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