MANILA — Global banking player DBS is considering the sustained 6.7 percent growth of the Philippine economy until 2019, to be buoyed by private consumption as well as investments both by the private and public sectors.
In a study, DBS economist Gundy Cahyadi said although growth, as measured by Gross Domestic Product (GDP), slowed in the last quarter of 2017 to 6.6 percent from quarter-ago’s upwardly revised seven percent the full year output was as expected.
“Domestic demand remained firm in Q4 and we expect this to continue driving overall GDP growth in 2018/19. We forecast a steady GDP growth at 6.7 percent in 2018 and 2018,” he said.
Domestic expansion in the last three months of 2017 is below market consensus of 6.7 percent.
Private consumption, which is among the economy’s major growth drivers, rose by 5.8 percent last year after it rebounded to 6.2 percent in the last quarter.
The study said last year’s private consumption growth is the slowest in the last three years but noted that “high-frequency data continued to show encouraging trends in consumption.”
Favorable demographics continues to lift underlying demand as proven by, among others, the 17 percent growth in average motorcycle sales last year, it said.
“This year’s tax reforms will have a positive long-term impact on disposable income despite a short-term rise in inflation. We expect private consumption growth to hold up at around six percent in 2018/19,” it said.
Investment is seen to get a boost from the government’s infrastructure program, which has a budget of at least Php8 trillion until the end of the Duterte administration in mid-2022.
Investment is also seen to expand by around nine percent this and next year.
The study noted that expansion of investment was seen on the PHP273-billion worth of net exports in the last quarter of 2017, which, on the other hand, was a record-low, due mainly to strong rise in imports as domestic demand continued to rise.
“Net exports are likely to remain deep in the negative for now, and we forecast the current account deficit to widen to about 1.1 percent of GDP in 2018, from an estimated 0.7 percent in 2017,” it said.
With domestic growth staying strong, Cahyadi expects the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) to raise key policy rates by as much as 100 basis points this year.
“Apart from addressing the transitory lift to inflation from tax reforms, higher rates would help temper the peso’s depreciation from record wide trade deficits and the return of the current account deficit last year,” he added.