World Bank: Boosted spending can expand Philippine economy

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine economy may grow faster than expected if public infrastructure spending is increased as planned, the World Bank said Monday.

If that happened, the country’s economic growth may exceed the earlier forecasts of 6.4 per cent this year and 6.2 per cent in the next two years, the bank said.

It also noted some businesses might be cautious given uncertainty over the ultimate direction of macroeconomic policy under President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration.

“Many reforms are being unveiled, specifically on tax policy and administration, the tracking of government spending, security of land tenure, ease of doing business and restrictions on foreign participation,” World Bank lead economist Brigit Hansl said.

“But as policy details are still being discussed, some businesses might remain cautious,” Hansl said, adding that the completion of a new Philippine development plan this year will provide more clarity on the Duterte administration’s development priorities.

A bank report said that next year, 40 per cent of planned government spending on infrastructure would be for roads, railways, seaports and airports — spending that can boost industrial activities, real estate, construction and tourism.

Domestic consumption will also continue to prop up the economy, according to Hansl.