Philippines tips 2012 GDP growth to beat forecasts

The Philippines economy will likely grow more than government forecasts this year and pick up over the next two years, Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said Tuesday.

He told a year-end economic briefing that gross domestic product would exceed 6.0 percent for 2012, well above the 5.0-6.0 percent expansion tipped by officials in Manila.

The foundation was set with growth of 6.5 percent in the first nine months of the year, Balisacan said, adding: "We forecast growth in 2013 to be between 6.0 to 7.0 percent and in 2014, between 6.5 to 7.5 percent."

He said the stronger outlook should help the government create more jobs, which has long been a drag on the economy.

Despite having nine million Filipinos or more than 10 percent of its citizens working abroad, 6.8 percent of its labour force was unemployed in October, the National Census Office said Tuesday in a statement.

A further 19 percent had just part-time jobs of less than 40 hours a week, it added.

"Given the latest labour and employment figures, generating employment and ensuring that these are of good quality remain our greatest challenge," Balisacan said.

Next year should see an improved electronics industry, which accounts for more than half of the country's exports, thanks to an expected pick-up in the global economy, he added.

Construction, growing demand for power, water and gas, the expansion of business process outsourcing, tourism, and financial services would also help drive growth, he said.

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