Growing population a boon for PH economy

Posted at 05/02/2012 10:19 AM | Updated as of 05/02/2012 1:26 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The Aquino government sees the country's rising population as more of a boon, rather than a bane it was to the economy in the past.

They are investing more to feed the young population, educate them and keep them healthy.

The government says the effects of this will be felt around 2015 when the working-age Filipinos will make up majority of the country, accelerating economic growth. At present, the country’s population reached 92.33 million as of 2010, according to data released by the National Statistics Office.

"If we are to reap this demographic dividend, this particular sector, the lower part will have to have the kills to be productive participants in the future Philippine economy," Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima said.

Working and earning Filipinos are consumers too. Bangko Sentral governor Amando Tetangco says domestic, consumer spending helps the economy ride out the increasingly volatile global economy and markets, which caused a drag on exports last year.

To keep the economy being domestic-demand driven, people need the skills to get jobs, earn and keep spending.

"Growth in the Philippines has been driven more by domestic demand rather than foreign demand... Of course, remttances help finance consumption but we also have what we recently talked about - the demographic dividend - the young, economically active population like those guys in teh BPO sector. They drive consumption," Tetangco said.

Tetangco said the government is finding ways to make sure the poor won't be left out. He says including them in the financial system, giving them access to credit could help them become a boost rather than a drag to the economy.

"We're trying to reach the unbanked and the underserved or the excluded segments in the population," he said.

The government says other economies grew fastest when they hit their demographic sweet spots. It's hoping to get a double boost from the rising population, and including more of the population in the modern economy.