by Safa D. Manala-o, CBAA
As quarantine restrictions ease across the Philippines, economic indicators are expected to gradually increase, according to Undersecretary Mercedita A. Sombilla of the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) during an MSU-IIT-organized online economic forum held on January 8, 2021 through Zoom teleconferencing.
The labor market is showing signs of recovery especially within the sectors of trade, agriculture, and construction, said Sombilla who discussed the pre-pandemic economic condition of the Philippines and NEDA’s growth projections as well as initiatives to build economic resiliency for 2021 and onwards.
In the forum organized by the College of Business Administration and Accountancy (CBAA) and the College of Arts and Social Sciences (CASS), the NEDA Undersecretary explained that the Philippines had an impressive economic growth of 6.6%, low inflation, strong fiscal position, low debt-to-GDP ratio, and lowest unemployment and poverty incidence prior to the COVID19 pandemic. Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which is the total value of all goods and services produced within the country, was at a competitive level of 5 to 6% throughout 2019 before it began to significantly decline in 2020.
The second quarter of 2020 was reported to have the lowest GDP growth rate of -16.9% for the year due to a near-total economic shutdown and massive loss of employment as the country grappled with the initial spread of the virus. The overall 2020 GDP growth rate was between -8.5% to -9.5%, said Sombilla.
Sombilla said that risks will have to be properly managed instead of completely avoided to achieve economic recovery targets for 2021. Government efforts will continue to ensure that inflation remains low and stable particularly for basic commodities.
This will be done by continuing to enforce minimum public health and safety protocols such as hand washing, wearing of face shields and face masks, and observing physical distancing.
She also mentioned the full restarting of public transportation, relaxing of age group restrictions, avoiding reversal to stricter quarantines and undertaking of face-to-face learning in low-risk areas as some measures to safely reopen the economy.
It was forecasted that GDP growth rates in 2021 will be 6.5% to 7.5%, and 8% to 10% by 2022.
Screenshots by Pamela F. Resurreccion, CBAA and Romel Sencio, CASS