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Careful rebound

According to the Asian Development Bank, economic recovery for the Philippines has been set in motion, but it also warns that the rebound will not be a walk in the park.

“We expect the recovery to pre-COVID 19 level of GDP (gross domestic product) sometime in late 2023, ” ADB country director Kelly Bird said in a webinar organized by the United Nations Development Program.

“It is going to be a long road to recovery. Recovery is in place, but it is still fragile,” Bird noted.

The ADB said the second quarter GDP performance at 11.8 percent is “very promising” considering that 70 percent of GDP during the period has recovered as compared to 2020 when the economy slumped 17 percent.

It is notable that the ADB estimate on pre-COVID-19 economic return is farm from the government’s forecast of pre-pandemic recovery by end 2022 or early 2023. Bird also said recovery would hinge on how the virus would behave in the community, especially as the more transmissible Delta variant is spreading and causing large spikes with cases recently reaching a record high of over 22,000 new cases.

While there is no dispute that vaccination is key to recovery, Bird also saidthat the country’s fiscal response has been appropriate as economic groups question the government’s excessive focus on limiting its borrowing threshold at the expense of fiscal stimulus through financial assistance for Filipinos who most need it. He also added that the government’s spending on infrastructure that has distinguished the Philippines from other countries in the region can help stimulate the economy in the short, medium and long term. The Philippine government’s pandemic response may have been widely criticized and the butt of jokes but since we cannot turn back the clock, we will have to continue looking forward if the country is going to recovery from the debilitating effects of the pandemic. As the ADB said, our recovery is somehow starting but with so many challenges still in place, sustaining it will be difficult. It is up to government to come up with the right plans and programs that will allow the Filipino people to contribute as much as they can as soon as possible so we can get out of this rut that the country has been stuck in for almost a year and a half.*

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