December 2, 2009 / 10:45 AM / in 8 years

Storms to hit Philippine growth, raise poverty: World Bank

MANILA (Reuters) - Two typhoons which struck the Philippines’ main island of Luzon in recent months will probably dampen growth in the near term, stretch state finances and push 480,000 people into poverty, a post-disaster report showed on Wednesday.

Damages and losses to crops, property, and infrastructure from typhoons Ketsana and Parma reached nearly $4.4 billion, or 2.7 percent of the Southeast Asian country’s gross domestic product, according to the post-disaster needs assessment report issued by the World Bank.

The total is well above the $823 million estimate of Manila’s disaster agency, which only accounted for direct damages and excluded resulting economic and property losses.

“The disaster is expected to have a negative impact on GDP growth in the short term,” said the report, which was done in collaboration with other international donors and the Philippines government.

“However, once projected public and private recovery and reconstruction spending are included, the net impact of the disasters on economic activity is expected to result in real GDP growth of 1.0 percent in 2009 and 3.5 percent in 2010.”

The World Bank estimates are within the government’s forecasts of growth hitting the low end of its target range of 0.8 to 1.8 percent this year and picking up to 2.6-3.6 percent in 2010.

Finance Secretary Margarito Teves said the multilateral lenders had offered to extend around $3 billion worth of grants, concessional and commercial loans to the Philippines, but he raised concern that the money may not arrive in time.

“This is a dialogue that we just had, so it is an indication of support coming from them,” Teves said.

But he added: “If they don’t come in on time, somebody has to fill in the gap in terms or providing the funding in the interim,” he said.

The total cost of recovery and reconstruction efforts until 2012 -- especially in farming, flood management and disaster risk reduction and housing -- was estimated at $4.42 billion, with majority, or 55 percent, to be funded by the public sector.

The private sector will take up the rest of the financing.

The $3 billion total includes a $250 million yen loan pledge from Japan.

The World Bank report said the impact of the typhoons on the manufacturing sector, which is suffering from lost inventories and damaged machinery, would likely result in slower state revenues next year.

Luzon, including the capital, produces over three-fifths of the country’s GDP and the typhoons would push hundreds of thousands into poverty this year, the report said.

“The number of poor people in the Philippines is expected to increase by 480,000 in 2009,” it said. “Total income lost due to the disaster amounted to 50.3 billion pesos ($1.1 billion), which particularly affected informal workers.”

The two typhoons severely affected 9.3 million people, or about a fifth of Luzon’s population.

Ketsana dumped an unusually high volume of rain over the capital and nearby provinces in late September while Parma crossed over central and northern Luzon regions three times in a space of a week, causing massive floods and landslides.

Reporting by Rosemarie Francisco and Karen Lema; Editing by Kazunori Takada

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