The Philippines was less severely affected by the Asian financial crisis of 1998 than its neighbors, aided in part by its high level of annual remittances from overseas workers, no sustained runup in asset prices, and more moderate debt, prior to the crisis. From a 0.6% decline in 1998, GDP expanded by 2.4% in 1999, and 4.4% in 2000, but slowed to 3.2% in 2001 in the context of a global economic slowdown, an export slump, and political and security concerns.
Average GDP growth accelerated to about 5% between 2002 and 2006 reflecting the continued resilience of the service sector, and improved exports and agricultural output. Nonetheless, it will take a higher, sustained growth path to make appreciable progress in the alleviation of poverty given the Philippines' high annual population growth rate and unequal distribution of income. The Philippines also faces higher oil prices, higher interest rates on its dollar borrowings, and higher inflation.
Fiscal constraints limit Manila's ability to finance infrastructure and social spending. The Philippines' consistently large budget deficit has produced a high debt level, and this situation has forced Manila to spend a large portion of the national government budget on debt service. Large unprofitable public enterprises, especially in the energy sector, contribute to the government's debt because of slow progress on privatization. Credit rating agencies have at times expressed concern about the Philippines' ability to service the debt, though central bank reserves appear adequate and large remittance inflows appear stable.
The implementation of the expanded Value Added Tax (VAT) in November 2005 boosted confidence in the government's fiscal capacity and helped to strengthen the peso, making it East Asia's best performing currency in 2005-06. Investors and credit rating institutions will continue to look for effective implementation of the new VAT and continued improvement in the government's overall fiscal capacity in the coming year.
source: CIA World Factbook