World Bank: Good economy 'new normal' for PH

A stable economy is "the new normal" for the Philippines, the World Bank's top Philippine official said, as he lauded the Aquino government for successfully implementing reforms.

The Philippine economy has consistently improved for more than two years, World Bank Country Director Motoo Konishi said, highlighting the stellar 6.6-percent growth in 2012.

"Macroeconomic stability—-the low inflation, large current account surpluses, a market-based exchange rate—is now the new 'normal' for the Philippines," he said in his speech during the 2013 Philippine Development Forum in Davao City Tuesday.

Related story: Philippine economy grows 6.6% in 2012

Robust growth, Konishi said, was propelled by stronger government finances, a continuous surge of remittances and an expansion in construction.

"[B]ut perhaps most of all, the nation and the world have confidence in the Aquino administration," Konishi said.

"This is great news, amid all the turmoil around the world," he added.

Economic improvements during the Aquino administration, Konishi said, show that "strong leadership at the top with a persistent focus on good governance can result in higher growth."

Also read: Philippines up 10 notches in 'economic freedom' list

"If maintained and deepened, it holds the promise of inclusive growth—growth that would bring greater good to more people, in particular the poor," Konishi said.

The Philippines, however, should continue to address the challenge of inclusive growth, the World Bank's Philippine chief said.

"And what I mean by inclusive growth is creating jobs. The lesson from other countries is that jobs drive inclusive growth," Konishi said.

This, as he noted that 10 million Pinoys are either unemployed or underemployed at present while another 1.1 million enter the labor force every year.

"The domestic job market in the formal, services, manufacturing, industries and jobs abroad are not enough to absorb so many people getting into the labor force," Konishi said.

Related story: PH rises in 'corruption perception' rankings

He therefore urged the government to ramp up the performance of all other sectors of the economy "particularly agribusiness and agriculture" to address joblessness.

The challenge is more urgent in Mindanao, Konishi said, noting the jobs contribute to highly needed "social cohesion" in the conflict-ridden region.

"The need for good jobs—jobs that raise real wages or bring people out of poverty —is an overwhelming challenge," he said.

"Everything we do must contribute to job creation," Konishi noted.

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