Philippines tips economy to grow six percent in 2012

The Philippine economy could grow by almost six percent this year thanks to improving business optimism despite a series of destructive storms in recent months, officials said Monday.

The economy, which grew by 6.1 percent on year in the first half, could do even better in the rest of the year as the government implements measures to boost laggard sectors, socioeconomic planning secretary Arsenio Balisacan said.

He added outsourced businesses, trade and tourism were all doing well and agriculture and manufacturing were expected to pick up in the second half.

"With the healthy macroeconomic fundamentals and the higher business optimism, we will most likely hit the upper end of the 5-6 (percent) target," he told a forum with investors.

Heavy rains and storms last month and early-September, which left huge parts of the capital flooded, killings scores and displacing millions, had only a minimal effect on the economy, Balisacan added.

He said farmers still had time to re-plant after the storms, adding that the floods affected mostly small businesses and not the large factories or call centres.

Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez cited the 11.68 percent rise in tourist arrivals to 2.2 million in the first half of the year as a further reason for optimism.

Central bank governor Amando Tetangco reported a 5.3 percent rise in remittances from the millions of Filipino working overseas to $13.3 billion in the first seven months of 2012.

The officials also reported increased interest from potential foreign investors, following President Benigno Aquino's election in 2010 on an anti-corruption platform.

Aquino was already addressing corruption which had long been cited as one of the main deterrents to investment in this country, the officials said.

But they were also working to make the economy more efficient and streamlined, to address the investors' other concerns as well.

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