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S&P cuts Philippines growth forecast

MANILA, Philippines - S&P Global Ratings has lowered its economic growth forecast for the Philippines for this year after weak private consumption pulled down the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) expansion in the first quarter.


In its Asia Pacific Sovereign Rating Trends Mid-year 2017 report, the debt watcher lowered the GDP growth forecast to 6.4 percent instead of 6.6 percent for this year but retained next year’s projection at 6.4 percent.


S&P sees the country’s GDP expansion picking up to 6.6 percent in 2019 and to 6.7 percent in 2020.


Economic managers retained this year’s GDP growth projection at a range of 6.5 to 7.5 percent this year from 6.9 percent last year despite the slowdown in the first quarter of the year.


The country’s GDP grew 6.4 percent in the first quarter of the year, weaker than the 6.6 percent growth booked in the fourth quarter of last year.


Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia earlier said the country’s GDP likely grew 6.4 percent in the second quarter of the year.


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The credit rating agency also sees the GDP per capita of the Philippines rising gradually to 4.9 percent in 2018, 5.1 percent in 2019 and 5.2 percent in 2020 from the projected 4.8 percent this year.


S&P sees inflation rising to 3.4 percent in 2017 and to 3.5 percent in 2018 before easing to three percent in 2019 and to 2.2 percent in 2020.


Last April 28, S&P affirmed the country’s rating at “BBB” equivalent to a notch above investment grade on a stable outlook.


“The stable outlook reflects our view that the policy environment remains conducive for sustained economic growth that contributes to continued stability of the sovereign’s fiscal and debt metrics,” the debt watcher said.


It said it could raise the ratings if the newly calibrated fiscal program under this administration significantly boosts investment and economic growth prospects, or if improvements in the policy environment lead to a better assessment of institutional and governance effectiveness.


On the other hand, it could also lower the ratings if the reform agenda stalls or if the recalibrated fiscal program leads to higher-than-expected deficits sufficient to reverse the progress made under the previous administration.


Moody’s Investors Service and Fitch Ratings also affirmed their credit ratings on the Philippines. The Philippines credit rating of “Baa2” with Moody’s is a notch above investment grade.


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