Cellular phone craze helps boost Philippine economy

Frenzied spending on the latest cellular phone models and the popular use of text messaging in the Philippines are helping boost the country's economic growth

Three million cellphone subscribers and an estimated 40 million text message exchanges bolsters Philippine economy.

MANILA, 21 July 2000 (Manila Bulletin) - Frenzied spending on the latest cellular phone models and the popular use of text messaging in the Philippines are helping boost the country's economic growth, a private research firm said Thursday. Ibon Foundation Inc. said brisk sales in communication services propped up consumer spending in the first quarter of year, which was one of major factors that stimulated economic growth in the January to March period.

"The mad rush for cellphones and the text phenomenon helped bolster the national economy in the first quarter," Ibon said. "And that just might be the case for the rest of the semester as the cellphone craze has yet to show signs of slowing down."

According to the National Statistics and Coordination Board (NSCB), consumer spending grew by 3.2 per cent in the first three months of the year, with the transport and communication sector posting a 7 per cent increase.

In March alone, personal consumption expenditure in the transport and communication sector went up by 15.2 per cent from the same month last year.

"The NSCB credits this to the aggressive marketing campaigns of the two largest cellular companies in the country," Ibon said in a statement.

There are already more than 3 million cellphone subscribers in the Philippines, and companies have continued to attract more customers through various pricecut deals. An estimated 40 million text messages are exchanged by these subscribers every day, making the country the texting capital of the world.

The government has yet to release economic growth data for the first half of the year. In the first quarter, gross domestic product expanded by 3.4 per cent - higher than 0.7 per cent in the same period in 1999, but lower than the government's target.

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