DESPITE unimpressive numbers representing economic disarray, the government hinted at an imminent economic rebound by the end of the year.
In a statement, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said that the Philippines will recover from recession by the end of the year, citing the government’s ongoing COVID-19 vaccination drive, complemented by public compliance to health protocols.
“We believe that we can still recover,” said Roque, adding that the government’s economic managers have set a six to seven-percent full-year growth target for the year.
“The solution for economic growth is to protect our health so we can continue to work,” he said.
Roque acknowledged the impact of the government’s reimposition of strict lockdown in Metro Manila and surrounding provinces last March on the local economy.
“We admit that because of the new variants, we had to reimpose modified enhanced community quarantine which closed down 60 percent of our economy,” he said.
The government placed Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal ― collectively known as “NCR Plus” ― under the second strictest lockdown classification from 12 April until 14 May, amid a fresh surge in coronavirus infections which threatened to overwhelm hospitals.
In a paper published Monday, research arm Moody’s Analytics said the Philippine economy is likely to only return to its pre-pandemic level by the end of 2022 due to its sluggish vaccine rollout, fresh surge in COVID-19 infections, and decentralized health care system.
It also expected the Philippine gross domestic product to grow by 5.3 percent this year, slower than the 6.3 percent estimate it gave last March.
“In contrast, China, Taiwan, South Korea, and Vietnam have returned to previous output levels, while Indonesia and Thailand are on track to return this year,” the analytics firm said.
Earlier this month, Fitch Solutions also lowered its economic growth forecasts for the Philippines for this year and next year, noting that the country is having difficulty checking the COVID-19 outbreak, and is struggling to vaccinate its citizens.
It predicted that the country’s GDP would grow 5.3 percent this year, down from an earlier forecast of 5.8 percent.
The Philippines’ GDP shrank 4.2 percent in the first quarter of 2021 from a year ago — a negative growth for the fifth consecutive quarter. It was the longest recession since the nine straight quarters of negative growth in the 1980s during martial law, observers noted.