"Current health statistics also point to a safer economy."
The Philippines has dodged a bullet, so to speak. It contained the spread of the more virulent Delta variant, resulting in daily COVID-19 cases of just around 1,000, and allowed many workers to go to their job site at the same time.
The ramped-up vaccination of the population and neighborhood quarantines, instead of regional lockdowns, significantly helped in curbing the spread of the virus. The government did not totally shut down the economy, unlike in previous lockdown episodes. No great damage was done on the economy as the government allowed more people to get out and participate in numerous activities.
The favorable COVID-19 numbers that we are now seeing, thus, justify a full reopening of the Philippine economy. Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III the other day sounded out a shift to the looser Alert Level 1 given the aggressive vaccination drive in the Philippines. The less restrictive alert level allows businesses to operate at full-site capacity, subject to minimum public health standards.
To paraphrase Mr. Dominguez, the Philippines did well despite the pandemic odds and it was now time to thrive under new economic conditions and adapt to market realities created by digital technology.
The current health statistics also point to a safer economy. The Philippines has administered 70.68 million doses, with the full protection given to 31.9 million Filipinos. Full vaccination in time will cover the target of 70 percent, or 77 million Filipinos.
The Filipino working class suffered the most during the economic lockdown. The underground economy as well bore the brunt of COVID-19. But the country’s demographic transition will back up the recovery. With a workforce comprising mostly of young Filipinos, the Philippines has entered a demographic sweet spot in which the greater population in the working age level will fuel the economy.
The full reopening of the economy is the right window that will make the country’s expanding young workforce more productive. To put it simply, more job opportunities will accelerate economic expansion and raise the country’s living standards.