MANILA - (UPDATE) The Philippine economy grew 6.9 percent in the first quarter, beating forecasts and outpacing China for the first time in nearly three decades, on the back of growing investments and robust industry and services sectors, the government said.
Growth in the January to March period was faster than the 6.6-percent prediction of economists polled by Reuters and the 6.5 percent expansion in the fourth quarter of last year.
The country also outpaced 11 major Asian economies in the first quarter, ahead of China which grew by 6.7 percent, Vietnam with 5.5 percent, Indonesia with 4.9 percent and Malaysia with 4.2 percent.
“We are pleased to be turning over a strong and stable economy onto the next administration. We have achieved significant socioeconomic progress over the last five years with the return of political and economic stability, which we hope the incoming administration will build on,” Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Emmanuel Esguerra told reporters.
“We should not miss the current second wave of foreign investments into the region, especially now that we have finally become an investment destination of choice,” he said.
Esguerra said the economy was on track to meet the 6.8 to 7.8 percent growth target this year.
Tough-talking Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte won the May 9 presidential election on the promise of a ruthless campaign against crime and corruption. He will assume office on June 30.
He has vowed to bring to the entire country tough measures that have made Davao a bustling metropolis in the conflict-torn south, including bans on smoking, liquor and karaoke singing and a curfew for minors.
He has also pledged to reform the country's outdated tax system and shift the form of government to federal from unitary.
Duterte's predecessor, Benigno Aquino III, presided over an economy that is among the fastest growing in the world, but whose gains are largely unfelt by the poor.