Economist sees PHL economy to outpace Asia's growth this year till 2020

Economist sees PHL economy to outpace Asia's growth this year till 2020
By Joann Santiago

MANILA, Jan. 25 (PNA) - Trend growth of the Philippine economy is projected to rise to around 6.5 percent by 2020 as the economy is seen to outpace growth in Asia.

"Philippines growth story to remain in Asia," Chidu Narayanan, Standard Chartered economist for Asia, said in a briefing Wednesday.

For 2016, the economist eyes a 6.9 percent growth for the domestic economy, near the upper end of the government's six to seven percent growth target.

In the first three quarters of 2016, average growth stood at 6.9 percent. The government is scheduled to report the last quarter and full year 2016 economic performance on Thursday.

Domestic growth is seen to be driven by robust domestic consumption and the programmed increase in infrastructure investments.

For 2017 to 2020, Narayanan projects growth to be at 6.7 percent, 6.5 percent, 6.4 percent, and 6.2 percent, respectively, with the declining figures attributed to base effect.

He said the 6.7 percent forecast gross domestic product (GDP) growth for 2017 alone, was "still fairly optimistic" and would remain, making the country among the strongest in the region.

He, however, said risks from the deteriorating current account surplus, weakness of the peso, and impact of external developments are seen to hamper domestic growth.

The country's current account position has been in surplus for more than a decade now, boosted by inflows of remittances and earnings of the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) sector.

Narayanan expects the current account to remain in surplus due mainly to rising BPO sector revenues.

BPO revenues are seen to increase by 16 percent in 2016 to around USD24 billion.

Cash inflows from Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs), meanwhile, posted a 5.2 percent increase in end-November 2016 to about USD24.34 billion.

The central bank's 2016 remittance growth projection was a rise of four percent. (PNA)

Nearly 2,500 passengers stranded in Bicol sea ports

Nearly 2,500 passengers stranded in Bicol sea ports; gov't hospitals on White Alert
By Connie B. Destura

LEGAZPI CITY, Dec. 24 (PNA) -- The Office of Civil Defense (OCD) in Bicol has reported that nearly 2,500 passengers have been stranded in various sea ports in the region since Friday, after Coast Guard authorities cancelled the sailing of all sea craft due to bad weather spawned by Typhoon Nina.

As of 12 noon Saturday, 'Nina' was spotted 445 km. east of Virac, Catanduanes. The state weather bureau, PAGASA, said 'Nina' has slightly slowed down but it has intensified further as it continued to move west-northwest.

Bernardo Rafael Alejandro, head of both OCD-Bicol and the Regional Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council, said that as of 4 a.m. Saturday, the number of passengers stranded in the ports of Pilar, Matnog and Bulan, all in Sorsogon; Tabaco City and Pio Duran in Albay; San Andres in Catanduanes; and Bapor in Masbate has reached 2,499.

He said they have been in these ports since Friday.

Alejandro said the number of rolling cargoes stranded in the ports have reached 367, majority of them in Matnog port in Sorsogon, where there were 360 cars, trucks and buses stranded.

He said there were two light vehicles stranded in Pilar port, also in Sorsogon; two in San Andres, Catanduanes; and three in Bapor, Masbate.

Alejandro said the RDRRMC has advised all DRRMCs in various local government units in the region to be on heightened alert, particularly those in coastal barangays, for possible floods, landslides and storm surges.

Meanwhile, the Bicol Regional Training and Teaching Hospital (BRTTH) based in this city has been placed under White Alert so it could respond and ensure efficient services as 'Nina' approaches Bicol.

Dr. Butch Rivera, BRTTH chief of hospital, said all hospital personnel have been directed to report, temporarily suspending all leaves of absences.

"During a Code White Alert, all hospital personnel -- general surgeons, orthopedists, anesthesiologists, internists, operating room nurses, ophthalmologists and other specialists -- are expected to be on duty," he said.

Rivera assured that standby ambulances and generators have been readied to ensure effective delivery of services to the public once 'Nina' hits the region.

He said all rural health units and birthing facilities in Albay have also been advised by the provincial health office to operate for 24 hours.

Rivera said in case of emergency, the BRTTH could be reached at (052)-483-00-17; Globe-0917-571-7234 and Smart-0998-576-2240. (PNA)