Infra investment to boost GDP growth to 7% in 2017 – BPI economist

The delivery of key infrastructure projects and programs can lift the Philippine gross domestic product (GDP) to around 7 percent in 2017, an economist said.

"Probably (GDP can increase by) 7 percent once again especially if the promised infrastructure programs are delivered," Emilio Neri, chief economist at the Bank of Philippine Islands, said in an interview.

He expects public spending mainly boosting this year's economic growth.

The government is ramping up public infrastructure spending to a record high Php890.9 billion this year, or 5.2 percent of the country's GDP. It targets to raise infrastructure spending as a share of GDP to 7 percent by 2022.

The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) projects the Philippine economy to grow 6.5 percent to 7.5 percent this year; and 7 percent to 8 percent in 2018.

Neri emphasized that growth is not an issue with the Duterte administration.

"I think the bigger issue is managing the fiscal accounts because so far, the numbers that BIR (Bureau of Internal Revenue) show seems to imply that the collections are trailing the growth of the economy," he added.

Neri said the Department of Finance-proposed tax reforms can enhance the existing administrative efficiency of the BIR.

The economist noted the government thus needs to enhance its ability to fund in the next six years its ambitious infrastructure programs, or the so-called Golden Age of Infrastructure of the new administration.

GDP is estimated to have grown 7 percent in 2016. It accelerated 7 percent in the first three quarters.

Source: Philippines News Agency

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