The Philippine economy is way past the green shoots of recovery. It is close to firing on all cylinders and is about to reach the pre-pandemic level of business activities. All the economy needs now is to step on the gas and go full speed ahead.
Economic managers are pushing for the full reopening of the economy to further increase domestic activities to sustain the robust gross domestic product expansion of 7.8 percent in the first half of 2022. The first-half growth was significantly faster than the pre-pandemic level average of around 6 percent in 2019.
Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said the full reopening should include the resumption of face-to-face classes, which the government just did on Aug. 22.
“We are committed to pursuing the country’s full reopening, including the return of face-to-face schooling to address the learning losses and increase domestic activities. This push will begin with the health sector’s efforts to increase [COVID-19 vaccine] booster uptake,” Balisacan said following the release of the first-half GDP data early this month.
Balisacan was referring to the recent launch of the “PinasLakas’ campaign of the Department of Health, which aims to boost 50 percent of the 78 million target population within the first 100 days of the Marcos administration. The move will allow more areas to de-escalate to Alert level 1 and, eventually, fully remove restrictions that hinder economic activity.
“The full reopening of the economy will indeed generate more income-earning opportunities,” said Balisacan.
Timely changes in COVID-related policies, such as easing alert levels, removal of tourism restrictions, and accelerated vaccine rollout, helped increase economic activities in the first half. Around 85 percent of the Philippine economy is already under Alert Level 1 as of June 2022.
“That these changes were implemented during the recently-held national and local elections demonstrate that, indeed, ‘living with the virus’ is possible,” Balisacan said.
Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno said the second-quarter GDP growth of 7.4 percent affirmed the country’s bright economic outlook despite headwinds coming from accelerating inflation rate, the war in Eastern Europe, and rising interest rates globally.
Diokno reassured the public that the economy is on a steady path to recovery and expansion, adding that the strong growth in the second quarter reflected the increase in mobility, better labor conditions, and government’s support to growth.
“In order to achieve the lower bound of the growth forecast of 6.5 percent, the Philippine economy has to grow by only 5.2 percent in the second half of the year. To achieve the upper bound of 7.5 percent, the economy has to grow by 7.6 percent,” said Diokno.