MANILA, Philippines – The Maybank Group said the Philippines is still the rising star among the 10-member Asean, especially with its demographic dividend or the dominance of the productive youth.
Datuk Abdul Farid Alias, chief executive officer of Maybank Group said the Philippine economy has been growing between six and seven percent in the past five years.
“We hope the impact of the Asean Economic Community (AEC) on the Philippine economy, and taking in consideration the country’s demographic dividend, will drive it to seven to eight percent growth,” Farid said in a press briefing.
The economy grew by an anemic 5.2 percent in the first quarter of the year, and it is expected to grow between five and six percent in the next three months.
The government hopes to grow the economy by seven and eight percent for both 2015 and 2016.
The country’s average population age is 23 years old, and said to be the youngest among the Asean. In Japan, the average age is 45 years.
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The Maybank chief executive said the large composition of working and productive age would drive consumption and economic growth.
The Philippines is forecast to see its middle class grow by 72 percent by 2020.
An area of mild concern is the three-percent fertility rate of the Philippines, which is the highest in the region.
The average fertility rate in the Southeast Asia is 2.4 percent.
Meanwhile, the positive growth in intra-regional trade has been increasing in the region.
Since 1995, intra-regional trade has been growing by an average 23 percent.
For the Philippines, the share of intra-regional trade has been increasing from 12.4 percent in the late ’90s, to a little over 20 percent.
Meanwhile, the challenge and the opportunity remain in the infrastructure space.
An estimated $7 trillion is required by Asean economies for infrastructure between 2014 and 2030.
“To further drive development, the Philippines government is also embarking on infrastructure spending. The implementation of these big-ticket infrastructure projects will be undertaken via public-private partnerships and will boost growth over many years as well as stimulate the broader economy through multiplier effects,” Farid said.
The anemic first quarter 2015 GDP was blamed on the failure of the government to release funds for major public infrastructure projects.
It is expected to improve from reported releases in the second quarter.
The Philippines have more than 50 active pubic-private partnership (PPP) projects, majority infrastructure related, with an estimated investment value of $23 billion.