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ADB raises growth forecasts for PH

The Philippine economy is forecast to remain on a steady growth path in 2021 and 2022, supported by an acceleration in the government’s coronavirus disease 2019 vaccination program and a sharp drop in COVID-19 cases, according to a report released yesterday by the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

The supplement to the Asian Development Outlook (ADO) 2021 said the Philippine economy will grow 5.1 percent in 2021 and 6.0 percent in 2022, up from the bank’s September forecast of 4.5 percent in 2021 and 5.5 percent in 2022.

“The Philippine economy has shown impressive resilience,” ADB Philippines Country Director Kelly Bird said. “Growth momentum has clearly picked up on the back of the government’s vigorous drive to vaccinate Filipinos against the COVID-19 virus. Public spending on infrastructure and continued vaccination of the population will help the country further accelerate its recovery in 2022.”

The inflation outlook for 2021 and 2022 is 4.4 percent and 3.7 percent, respectively, mainly due to rising fuel prices. These are up from ADB’s September forecast of 4.1 percent in 2021 and 3.5 percent for 2022.

Vaccination has allowed the economy to slowly reopen, boosting consumer and business confidence. More than 57 million Filipinos, or nearly 65 percent of the target for vaccination, had received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose as of 8 December 2021. 

In addition to the government’s purchases of COVID-19 vaccines, the World Health Organization-supported COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) facility also donated supplies for the country’s nationwide vaccination program.  

ADB has been assisting the government in procuring COVID-19 vaccines. 

It provided USD425 million in total financing through the Health System Enhancement to Address and Limit COVID-19 under the Asia Pacific Vaccine (HEAL) and HEAL2 programs. These loans helped fund nearly half of the country’s vaccine supply purchases for 2021. 

On December 13, 2021, ADB approved USD250 million in additional financing under HEAL 2 to help the government procure more COVID-19 vaccines for minors and booster shots for adults.

Public spending on major infrastructure projects will support the country’s economic growth. 

ADB has been supporting the government’s “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure development program, which seeks to boost investments on roads, bridges, and railways to fuel faster growth, especially in areas outside the capital Metro Manila.

ADB’s current investments in the country’s flagship projects include the Malolos Clark Railway Project, EDSA Greenways Project, and the Angat Water Transmission Improvement Project.

The bank is preparing a USD175-million loan to assist the government in building climate- and disaster-resilient bridges to improve road traffic flow in Metro Manila.*PNA

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