Economic outlook

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By Godofredo M. Roperos

Politics also

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

THERE seems to be a mixed assessment of our economy and business prospects over the next few months as various sources indicated in their respective reports the past few days. It is difficult to hazard a more assured view in the face of conflicting yet somehow reasonable stand, simply because the sources are equally credible and hard to disavow.

After suffering twin calamities, we just have to take what comes.

The first thing that hit us last weekend was the story of a national newspaper that said, “Gov’t debt hits P5.61 trillion as of Sept.” That was like being punched in the solar plexus by Manny P.

Imagine our government owing that money as of end September, which is “3.17 percent higher than last year’s level.” This, according to the Bureau of the Treasu­ry’s (BTR) report made only last Friday, although it is said to be lower by 0.6 percent or P33 billion lower than the previous month’s level.

On the other hand, another story said that the remittances of overseas Filipino workers would increase by about 5 percent as our migrant workers may be spurred to increase the amount they would be sending home. There is even the possibility that the projection would still increase according to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), as OFWs send more cash to relatives in typhoon-ravaged areas.

It’s possible the global recovery “may be sustained through 2014 (and) global economic conditions improve.” This would lead to an increase in demand for (more) skilled Filipino labor. The BSP report pointed out that, “Year-to-date cash remittance at the end of September totaled $16.48 billion, 5.8 percent higher than that of last year.

The BSP head, however, clarified that it is not easy to segregate what is due to the disaster or to seasonal factor.

In the face of this, the fear that poverty would worsen as a result of the calamities the country has suffered has necessitated more concentration of efforts and focus on relief and rehabilitation of the victims in various parts of the nation. It is said that, although the Philippines has “become one of the fastest growing Asian economies, its poverty rate remained one of the highest in the region...”

The National Economic Development Authority (Neda) has reportedly set a goal “to help those whose lives had been ruined by the calamity and lift them out of poverty within a year."

The aim, I am told, is for the victims of the earthquake and typhoon who fell into poverty to be temporary and thus be able to stand on their own feet again. Unless the thousands of families are helped so they could live on their own again, the PH would
further increase its indebtedness over time.

There seems to be high optimism in the business sector, as well as the government, however, that the resilience of the Filipino and the confidence of local and foreign investors on the country’s economy would eventually prevail and sustain the country back to a stable and viable future.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on December 04, 2013.


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