MANILA, April 12 (Xinhua) -- The Philippine economy is projected to expand 50 percent by 2022 if the government of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte reaches its annual target during the six year term, Economic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia said.
Pernia, the director general of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), said the Duterte administration is targeting an annual 7.0-8.0 percent average gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate from 2018 through 2022.
NEDA is a Philippine government agency responsible for the country's economic development and planning.
"With these growth rates, the economy will expand 50 percent by 2022 from its base in 2016. Likewise, per capita income is projected to increase by 40 percent from 3,550 U.S. dollars in 2015 to at least 5,000 U.S. dollars in 2022," Pernia said in a recent speech in the University of Arizona in Tucson.
A copy of the speech was released to the media on Thursday.
"Indeed, our economy is expected to graduate from middle-income to upper middle-income country by the end of 2019," Pernia said.
He noted that the GDP posted 6.7 percent growth for full year 2017, slightly above the lower band of the country's target range of 6.5 to 7.5 percent.
As a result, he said the Philippines remains one of the fastest-growing economies in Asia.
"This means that growth is increasingly being driven by investments vis-a-vis consumption on the demand side, and by the industry sector -- especially manufacturing -- relative to the service sector on the supply side," he said.
In other words, Pernia said "the sources of economic growth have diversified."
"Such qualitative change enables the economy to sustain growth and generate more stable and quality jobs," he added.
Overall, he said the country's external position remains favorable, characterized by strong flows of foreign investments, remittances, healthy current account, and declining external debt.
With greater fiscal space, Pernia said the government has been able to increase investments in human and physical capital.
For infrastructure, Pernia said the government will raise cash basis spending from about 4 percent of GDP in 2017 to over 6 percent by 2022, or an investment of 130 billion U.S. dollars over six years, making this administration's term the "golden age of infrastructure" in the Philippines.
Importantly, Pernia said the higher pace and improved quality of economic growth have created more and better jobs.
He said unemployment registered the lowest at 5.5 percent in 2016 but inched up a bit at 5.7 percent in 2017.
Nonetheless, he said underemployment registered the lowest rates over the past decade at 16.1 percent in 2017, which signals that the quality or stability of work being generated is improving.
He said recent result of the Labor Force Survey (LFS) continued to show a vibrant labor market, total employment increased by 6.1 percent in January 2018, reaching 41.8 million with an estimated 2.4 million net employment generation relative to January 2017.
Meanwhile, he said unemployment rate was estimated at 5.3 percent in January 2018, the lowest unemployment rate recorded for all January rounds in the past decade, in line with the Philippine Development Plan (PDP) target of 4.7-5.3 percent for 2018.