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Statistics body: GDP rebasing to wait

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THE PHILIPPINE STATISTICS AUTHORITY (PSA) will hold off till 2020 the use of a new baseline for measuring economic growth.

National Statistician Lisa Grace S. Bersales said the agency has pushed back the planned rebasing of national income accounts, including data for measuring gross domestic product (GDP) growth, to the later period.

“We expect that the rebasing of national accounts will be finished by 2020,” Ms. Bersales said in an interview on the sidelines of a media briefing on Friday last week.

The PSA chief said that the agency is looking at using 2018 as the new base year for GDP and, eventually, for inflation.

To recall, the PSA adjusted the consumer price index (CPI) used in tracking inflation. Starting this year, readings on price movements have been adjusted in comparison to 2012 as base year.

GDP and related macroeconomic data remain pegged against 2000 prices.

“This year is the Family Income and Expenditure Survey — that’s the basis of the CPI basket. So we are still discussing na baka ‘yung National Income Accounts ay i-2018 na namin, and when the CPI is rebased, it will be 2018 as well,” Ms. Bersales added.

The choice of the new base year will be finalized “within the year,” subject to the approval of the PSA Board which is the highest policy-making body of the agency. Ms. Bersales noted that they once considered using 2015 as the new base year, but this was thumbed down by the board.

PSA officials have said they are also looking at using 2012 as the new base year for national income accounts in order to reflect a “more comprehensive” data set to capture emerging developments in the economy. These talks have been ongoing since 2015, but such changes have not been adopted.

For CPI, an updated base would introduce new items into the theoretical basket which are more representative of what a typical Filipino household spends on regularly and removes those that are no longer purchased as frequently.

For GDP, using an outdated base could mean that the growth of an economy may be “underestimated,” especially as new industries may not be captured by the old method.

This includes sectors with growing prominence like information and communication technologies, business process outsourcing as well as e-commerce.

The PSA reports GDP growth on a quarterly basis as a general measure of the Philippine economy’s performance.

The economy expanded by a slower-than-expected six percent last quarter, taking last semester’s expansion to 6.3%.

Those latest GDP readings compare to the 6.6% clocked in the second quarter and the first semester of last year, as well as the government’s target of 7-8% for full-year 2018. — Melissa Luz T. Lopez





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