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Associated Press
Philippines Aims to Boost Growth by 2009
Associated Press 02.20.07, 5:07 AM ET

The Philippine government hopes to accelerate economic growth from 7 percent this year to 9 percent in 2009, the president's chief of staff Tuesday.

Gross domestic product expanded 5.4 percent in 2006, faster than 5 percent in 2005 but slower than the government's target of between 5.5 percent to 6.1 percent.

This year, the government is aiming for growth to average between 6.1 percent and 6.7 percent, but could push it to 7 percent by increasing public works spending, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's Chief of Staff Joey Salceda told reporters.

Salceda said the plan included enhancing public investment this year to attract foreign capital next year and improve domestic investment in 2009.

Arroyo reiterated that her administration will continue to work toward wiping out the government's budget deficit by next year.

"We will continue with the path of a balanced budget by next year," she said during the same briefing.

The government is looking at a budget deficit of 63 billion (US$1.3 billion; euro989 million) this year, after posting its narrowest deficit in eight years in 2006.

"We have proven to the world that we can sustain economic growth and not be derailed by political sideshows," said Arroyo, referring to repeated opposition attempts during the past two years to impeach her on election fraud and corruption allegations.

She said that since she took office in 2001, the country has experienced 24 straight quarters of economic growth - the longest growth streak over the past half century.

During the next three and half years, Arroyo said the government intends to invest about 1 trillion pesos (US$20.8 billion; euro15.8 billion) to develop much-needed infrastructure to support the economy and attract investment.

Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

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