World Bank: PH growth to remain strong this 2017-2018

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 2) — The World Bank bank said Saturday it expects the Philippines to continue its robust growth in 2017, adding it projects the country's economy will expand at 6.8 percent this year.

In its updated quarterly forecast for 2017-2018, the World Bank projected an adjusted 6.8 percent 2017 growth rate, slightly lower compared to the 6.9 percent it predicted last quarter, based on recent economic trends. It also predicted a growth of 6.9 percent for 2018 -- the same as its April forecast.

The World Bank said government consumption and investment growth was slightly weaker due to lower public spending in the first quarter of 2017, but said private consumption and exports remained high.

It added given the high base due to election-related spending in the first quarter of 2016, growth in the first quarter of 2017 was in line with the World Bank's growth projection.

World Bank Lead Economist for the Philippines Birgit Hansl said supporting higher investment levels will be "critical" to sustaining the economy's growth momentum in the medium-term.

"The government's ability to realize its infrastructure spending agenda will determine if the Philippines can achieve the growth target of 6.5-7.5 percent for 2017," she said.

Consumption is expected to grow at 5.6 percent in 2017 and 6.1 percent in 2018, compared to 7.2 percent in 2016. The World Bank said remittance flows play a role in maintaining this consumption growth in the medium term, adding remittances increased by eight percent in the first quarter of 2017 compared to three percent in first quarter 2016.

It also said in line with the gradually improving global economy and trade this 2017, growth among the Philippines' main trading partners will boost demand for Philippines exports.

In June 2016, the World Bank said the Philippines, along with Vietnam, had the strongest growth prospects in Southeast Asia despite a slowdown in the global economy's growth.

READ: PH safe from global downturn - World Bank

The World Bank said this continued economic growth is expected to create more job opportunities and lead to increased incomes among all income groups.

On May 18, the Philippine Statistics Authority said the gross domestic product (GDP) - the broadest measure of the economy - grew by 6.4 percent in the first quarter of 2017, down from 6.9 percent the previous year.

READ: Economic growth slows to 6.4% in Q1