Philippines - The Economy
THE PHILIPPINE ECONOMY EXPERIENCED considerable difficulty in the 1980s. Real gross national product (GNP) grew at an annual average of only 1.8 percent, less than the 2.5 percent rate of population increase. The US$668 GNP per capita income in 1990 was below the 1978 level, and approximately 50 percent of the population lived below the poverty line. The 1988 unemployment rate of 8.3 percent (12.3 percent in urban areas) peaked at 11.4 percent in early 1989, and the underemployment rate, particularly acute for poor, less-educated, and elderly people, was approximately twice that of unemployment. In 1988, about 470,000 Filipinos left the country to work abroad in contract jobs or as merchant seamen.
The economy had grown at a relatively high average annual rate of 6.4 percent during the 1970s, financed in large part by foreign-currency borrowing. External indebtedness grew from $2.3 billion in 1970 to $24.4 billion in 1983, much of which was owed to transnational commercial banks.
In the early 1980s, the economy began to run into difficulty because of the declining world market for Philippine exports, trouble in borrowing on the international capital market, and a domestic financial scandal. The problem was compounded by the excesses of President Ferdinand E. Marcos's regime and the bailing out by government-owned financial institutions of firms owned by those close to the president that encountered financial difficulties. In 1983 the country descended into a political and economic crisis in the aftermath of the assassination of Marcos's chief rival, former Senator Benigno Aquino, and circumstances had not improved when Marcos fled the country in February 1986.
Economic growth revived in 1986 under the new president, Corazon C. Aquino, reaching 6.7 percent in 1988. But in 1988 the economy once again began to encounter difficulties. The trade deficit and the government budget deficit were of particular concern. In 1990 the economy