Business leaders: Sustaining growth is now the challenge

By: Jose Santino S. Bunachita January 23,2018 - 10:01 PM

(CDN PHOTO/TONEE DESPOJO)

PH Economy expands 6.7% in 2017

Business leaders in Cebu welcomed the 6.7 percent growth rate registered by the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) for 2017, as reported by the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) yesterday.

But more than anything, Cebu business leaders want the country’s continued growth to be sustained and to be inclusive.

Glenn Soco, the immediate past president of the Mandaue Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI), said that the 6.7 percent GDP growth was still high even if it went down from the 6.9 percent growth rate registered in 2016.

“This is a sign of a strong and stable economy. Now, the question is can we sustain it? I feel we have strong economic fundamentals that can sustain its growth,” Soco said.

Passage of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) bill as well as the Duterte administration’s “Build, Build, Build” thrust in increased government spending for infrastructure are seen to help the country’s economy grow even faster.

“The challenge now would be on how this growth will trickle down to the countryside or the grassroots level. How it can be felt by ordinary people and the countryside,” Soco added.

The government reported yesterday that the country’s GDP grew by 6.6 percent in the fourth quarter of 2017 which was a bit lower than the 7 percent growth rate registered by the country in the third quarter. This result to an average economic growth of 6.7 percent for the entire year.

Within target

Although slower than the 6.9 percent rate posted in 2016, it was still within the government’s target growth of 6.5 to 7.5 percent for 2017.

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia said in a statement yesterday that this year’s growth rate is still laudable considering that it is a post-election year which historically records much lower rates.

He added that the growth rate posted still puts the Philippines as one of Asia’s fastest growing economies behind China and Vietnam which recorded 6.9 percent and 6.8 percent growth respectively.

The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported that manufacturing, trade, real estate, renting, and business activities were the major growth drivers in the fourth quarter of last year.

The industry sector grew by 7.3 percent while services grew by 6.8 percent. However, both numbers were lower compared to the 7.6 percent and 7.4 percent growth rates recorded in the same quarter in 2016.

The agriculture sector grew by 2.4 percent, a recovery compared to the -1.3 percent rate in the same period in 2016.

Investing more

Melanie Ng, president of the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI) said the country’s GDP growth rate reflects its upbeat economy and is a manifestation of the country’s continued upward growth.

“Continued efforts by a strong public and private sector engagement and initiatives will definitely spur the economy to grow steadily and surely this year. This is a great time for us to take a closer look at investing more and seizing these opportunities for growth,” she said.

“Higher growth will rebound to an economy that will provide for more jobs for our people,” she added.

Challenges

Cebu IT-BPM Organization (CIB.O) managing director Jun Sa-a said the economy’s growth is still quite impressive despite the challenges that hit the Information Technology (IT) and Business Process Management (BPM) industry.

Incidents like the Marawi siege, Sa-a said, had initially turned off some investors but others were still convinced to continue.

He added that another challenge last year was the “Trump noise” or the pronouncements of US President Donald Trump to take bring back employment to the United States which could greatly affect the BPM industry.

“We are also seeing some new players coming in but they have not gone public. (If not for the Marawi siege) it could have been higher. But we were still able to manage a very decent growth,” he said.

10% growth

Sa-a revealed that Cebu has recorded an average growth of 10 percent in the IT-BPM sector from last year.

He pointed out the continued construction of BPM office buildings including four in the Cebu IT Park alone, growth of existing players like Sykes which has expanded their office at the Robinsons Galleria, and Accenture with their location at the Cyberzone, among others.

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TAGS: business, challenge, growth, leaders, NOW, SUSTAINING

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