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Bayan downplays 7.1% Phl growth

MANILA, Philippines - Militant group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) dismissed yesterday as unsustainable the reported 7.1 percent economic growth in the third quarter, saying it was largely fueled by external factors and not by a dynamic business climate.  

Bayan was reacting to the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB)’s report of the glowing gross domestic product (GDP) figure in the third quarter, showing the Philippine economy as the fastest growing in Southeast Asia during the period.

Bayan said foreign direct investments (FDI) in the business process outsourcing (BPO) as well as remittances from overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) account for the robust growth.

The group said the two factors fueled the construction boom in the country, which in turn pushed the GDP growth both in the consumption and spending sides.

NSCB data showed that during the period, gross value added in construction grew by 24.3 percent, the largest among all sectors. Manufacturing expanded by just 5.7 percent.

Meanwhile, construction expenditure expanded by 24.8 percent during the same period, easily the fastest growth rate among all types of expenditures that contributed to the GDP growth.

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“BPO and OFW remittances could not be expected to sustain the economic growth over the long term because they depend largely on the conditions of foreign economies, particularly the US and other rich countries where FDI and remittances come from,” Bayan secretary-general Renato Reyes said.

“They also do not represent positive signals for the economy but in fact are abnormalities created by age-old deeply flawed national policies and programs,” he said.

He said such kind of GDP growth also explains why poverty and joblessness persist.

Official unemployment rate as measured by the National Statistics Office was seven percent in July or 2.83 million jobless workers, almost the same as last year’s figure of 2.82 million unemployed.

“Ironically, the large number of OFWs is being driven by the lack of jobs in the domestic labor market. Further, the Social Weather Stations in its August 2012 survey reported that 47 percent of Filipino families (about 9.5 million) consider themselves poor.” “Malacañang can jump with joy over the new statistics but at the end of the day, people will still measure growth in terms of higher wages and salaries, jobs created domestically, social benefits, lower prices and other indicators that are directly felt by the people. What we are seeing appears to be jobless growth since unemployment remains quite significant and almost unchanged, even if based on official data,” he added. 

Bayan said the government can only stem poverty and unemployment by building national industries.

“Sadly, amid all the noise about good governance and inclusive growth, our economy is still geared towards meeting international demand rather than actual domestic needs,” Reyes said.

Meanwhile, the Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) is launching protest actions today to mark the 149th birth anniversary of Andres Bonifacio.

Workers belonging to the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) are also set to take to the streets today to protest what they call the Aquino administration’s anti-poor policies.

“The best way to pay tribute to Bonifacio is to carry on with his struggle for national independence and genuine democracy. Our protests form part of that struggle,” KMU secretary-general Roger Soluta said.

“We have no doubt in our hearts that if Bonifacio were alive today, he would be leading a revolt against continued foreign and elite domination over the Filipino people. One hundred and forty-nine years after he was born, we are still to be born as an independent nation,” he added.  – With Mayen Jaymalin 



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