Vital reforms must continue in the next administration to ensure the continued economic recovery from the impact of the pandemic, the Department of Finance (DOF) said over the weekend.
In an economic bulletin, the department echoed the sentiment of Economic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua about the importance of “policy continuity.”
Chua particularly cited reforms enacted under the Duterte administration, like the CREATE Law, Rice Tariffication Law, “Build, Build, Build,” the National ID, and retail trade liberalization.
All of these reforms “should be retained, not reversed,” Chua said.
In its bulletin over the weekend, the DOF said the next administration may need to continue to implement structural reforms in the economy to sustain the economy’s growth and recovery.
As trade activity recovers, everyone must continue to be vigilant and hedge against the risks posed by COVID-19 and its variants through a robust vaccination program and a prudent reopening of the economy, lest the recovery momentum be lost and economic gains go unrealized, the bulletin said.
“Key structural reforms such as the recently passed amendments to the Retail Trade Liberalization Act, to the Foreign Investment Act, and to the Public Service Act will improve the economy’s investment climate and stimulate trade and economic activity in general,” the DOF said.
The country’s total external merchandise trade in February 2022 stood at $15.8 billion, up 18.1 percent from the same month last year.
The import value for the month was recorded at $9.7 billion, up 20.1 percent year-on-year, while exports for the month amounted to $6.2 billion, up 15.0 percent year on year.
Additionally, total trade for the month was 19.7 percent larger than the total recorded in 2019. Imports and exports were respectively 21.3 percent and 17.3 percent higher than their pre-pandemic levels.
The latest Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index available from S&P Global was recorded at 53.2 for March 2022, indicating continued expansion in the manufacturing sector. This was the highest recorded level since December 2018, and manufacturing PMI has stayed at or above 50 since September last year.
The gross domestic product surpassed the pre-pandemic level as it grew by 8.3 percent in the first quarter this year, a strong reversal of the 3.8-percent contraction in the same period last year, as the economy reopened further amid the waning cases of COVID-19 infections.
Growth in the first quarter exceeded the median analyst forecast of 6.7 percent, making the Philippines the fastest-growing economy in the East Asian Region for the period. On a seasonally adjusted quarter-on-quarter basis, the economy grew by 1.9 percent compared to the fourth quarter of 2021.
Data showed the first-quarter expansion was the strongest in the past three quarters, or since the 12.1-percent growth in the second quarter last year. The expansion in the first three months was also significantly stronger than the 7.8-percent expansion in the fourth quarter of 2021.
This year, the government expects GDP growth to reach between 7 percent and 9 percent, stronger than the actual 5.7 percent in 2021, which was a reversal of the 9.6 percent contraction in 2020 due to the pandemic.
Meanwhile, Camarines Sur Rep. LRay Villafuerte on Sunday lauded the initial set of Cabinet appointments of presumptive president Ferdinand Marcos Jr. at the Departments of Education and of Interior and Local Government, saying these choices were signs that the next administration would put a premium on wisdom and local governance.
Marcos’s spokesman Vic Rodriguez revealed last week that incoming vice president Sara Duterte would get the DepEd portfolio, while former Metro Manila Development Authority chairman and Mandaluyong City mayor Benhur Abalos would be the DILG secretary.