MANILA (Reuters) - The World Bank said on Friday it slightly cut its gross domestic product (GDP) growth forecast for the Philippines as persistently high inflation eats into consumer spending.
The Philippine economy, among the fastest growing in Asia, is seen expanding by 6.4 percent in 2018 and 6.5 percent in 2019, a tad lower versus the October forecast of 6.5 percent and 6.7 percent, respectively.
High inflation might temper growth in private consumption in the fourth quarter of 2018, the World Bank said. But moderating price increases in the following quarters and the mid-term election in May will boost consumer confidence and raise private consumption in 2019, it added.
Philippine annual inflation, coming off its highest in nearly a decade, slowed to a four-month low in November amid slower growth in prices of food and utilities. It allowed the central bank last week to keep its benchmark interest rates unchanged, pausing after five straight hikes.
“A strong, consistent delivery of the infrastructure investment agenda while sustaining improvements in health, education and social protection will be key to maintaining the robust and inclusive growth outlook of the Philippines,” said World Bank senior economist Rong Qian.
The Philippines could face headwinds from possibly weaker investment given a delay in approving the budget for 2019, while weak global trade could dampen exports, it said.
The government targets GDP growth of 6.5-6.9 percent this year, down from the previous 7-8 percent growth goal. The annual growth target for 2019-2022 has been kept at 7-8 percent.
Reporting by Neil Jerome Morales; Editing by Jacqueline Wong