Philippines’s Economic Growth At Par With Asian Countries: NEDA Chief

May. 07, 2007

MANILA — Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Romulo L. Neri said that the Philippines is growing at a respectable rate compared with its Asian neighbors, and not losing out to the economies of Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, and Bangladesh as claimed by a May 4 advertisement in a daily newspaper.

To say that we are losing to Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, and Bangladesh is plain wrong, Neri said. He explained the flaw is that the argument does not consider the base. GDP growth rates tend to slow the larger the base, said Neri, who is also the director-general of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).

Neri clarified that it would be much useful to compare the GDP level of the Philippines with that of the others. For example, the GDP of the Philippines is twice that of Vietnam, a country of roughly equal population size. The countrys GDP in 2006 is US$116.90 billion, as against that of Bangladesh (US$69.02 billion), Vietnam (US$48.26 billion), Cambodia (US$48.26 billion) and Laos (US$2.77 billion).

The best index of comparison is GDP per capita in purchasing power terms or PPP, which refers to making adjustments for differences in prices across countries, the NEDA chief said. The CIAs The World Factbook showed that the GDP per capita of the following countries were: Malaysia (US$12,700), Thailand (US$9,100), China (US$7,600), Philippines (US$5,000), Indonesia (US$3,800), Vietnam (US$3,100), Cambodia (US$ 2,600), Bangladesh (US$2,200) and Laos (US$2,100).

The Philippines is not at the top of the list, but neither is it the basket case that the advertisement tries to portray, Neri noted.

He added that the average GDP for 2001 to 2006 was pulled down by the political crisis of the last administration that led to People Power II. As a result of the crisis and the May 2001 rebellion, GDP growth in 2001 was only 1.8 percent. The economy recovered slowly, posting growth of 4.4 percent in 2002, and 4.9 percent in 2003.

It would be fairer to judge the economy minus the crisis hangover effect, Neri said. The GDP growth rates were 6.2 percent in 2004, 5.0 percent in 2005, and 5.4 percent in 2006. That averages 5.33 percent, which is respectable, he said.

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