PH on track toward upper middle income status: NEDA

MANILA -- The Philippines is on track to becoming an upper middle economy by end-2019 on the back of reforms imperative in boosting growth amid global uncertainties, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said Monday.

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia expressed confidence the country could reach the threshold for becoming an upper middle-income country, with about USD3,900 gross national income (GNI) per capita this year, after hitting USD3,800 GNI per capita in 2017.

“If GNI per capita grows by 3 percent because population is now growing at 1.7 percent I think, we could still hurdle the threshold. (This is) just a conservative estimate,” he said in a media briefing on the initial results of the Socioeconomic Report (SER) 2018.

Pernia noted the country has made “great strides” in putting in place some critical reforms that will have long-term benefits, including the Philippine Identification System Act (PhilSys), the Ease of Doing Business Act, and the 11th Regular Foreign Investment Negative List, among others.

“With these key reforms, we expect the performance of the economy to be robust despite domestic and external risks and uncertainties. These reforms will likely strengthen economic and financial inclusion, make the delivery of public services more efficient, facilitate ease of doing business, and encourage more domestic and foreign investments,” he said.

“These reforms will help ensure that the economy will stay on a higher growth trajectory over the medium term and beyond,” he added.

The government targets the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) growing to 7 to 8 percent this 2019 and next year. It accelerated 6.2 percent in 2018.

NEDA Undersecretary Rosemarie Edillon noted “it is important that we keep our macroeconomic fundamentals very stable, very sound.”

Edillon is optimistic these key reforms could help the country achieve upper middle income status.

“Because all the reforms we are pushing for is really to open up more opportunities. That’s what we need, more opportunities for growth,” she said in an interview.

The NEDA official also cited the government’s “Build, Build, Build” program and the tourism sector which could support economic growth under the Duterte administration.

“Apart from that, if we can have other drivers, so much the better. If we can have more investors coming in for the manufacturing, to boost our housing for instance. The Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD) will actually be very, very important for this. That one will really give a boost to housing,” Edillon added. (PNA)