MANILA, Philippines — National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) acting Director-General Karl Kendrick Chua has assured the public that the COVID-19 pandemic is just a “temporary setback” on the economy as the Philippines is performing better than other countries.

“Itong COVID crisis ay isang temporary setback. Lahat po ng bansa ay naghihirap dahil dito, walang exempted. Pero ang kalagayan po natin ay mas maganda at mas handa po tayo na makabawi sa lalong madaling panahon,” Chua said Saturday in an online press briefing.

(The COVID-19 crisis is just a temporary setback. All countries suffer from this, there is no exemption. However, our situation is better than others and we are more prepared to recover more quickly.)

The acting NEDA chief claimed that the Philippine economy’s 6.6% gross domestic product (GDP) growth seen between 2016 and 2019, which he credited to the Build, Build, Build program, the TRAIN Law, and the Rice Tariffication Law, gave the government enough funds for its social amelioration program and other COVID-19 measures.

He explained, however, that despite the Philippines having one of the biggest economies at the start of 2020, the three unexpected crises that the country faced had a significant negative effect on the GDP. He specified the three crises as the Taal Volcano’s explosion, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the imposition of enhanced community quarantine over several areas.

“Ito po ay nagdulot ng isa sa mga pinakamababang GDP growth rate. In fact, negative 0.2% nga, ibig-sabihin lumiit ‘yung ating GDP. Ito po ang unang pagkakataon na nagkaroon tayo ng recession since 1998,” Chua stressed.

(This caused the lowest GDP growth rate. In fact, its negative 0.2%, meaning our GDP shrank. This is the first time we experienced a recession since 1998.)

The Philippine economy is also projected to lose up to P2.5 trillion due to the pandemic, the state-run think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) revealed in a recent study. The UK-based Oxford Economics also estimates that the country’s loss of output as of May is worth 5.8% of the GDP, the highest in the Asean-5.

Upper-middle income status still eyed

Chua said he hopes the country will still be able to achieve an “upper-middle-income country status” this year, but admitted that it might be delayed due to the global health crisis.

“Sana po this year ay ma-achieve natin ‘yung upper-middle-income country status. Ang problema naman ay dahil sa unexpected crisis natin, dulot ng COVID, baka ma-delay po ‘yan. Pero lahat ng bansa nakikita po natin na y’ung kanilang economic growth ay humina o lumiit nga, nag-contract,” Chua said.

(I hope that we will still be able to achieve the upper-middle-income country status. Our problem is that because of this unexpected crisis due to COVID-19, that might be delayed. But we can see that other countries are experiencing economic decline.)

“So I think temporary setback lang ito, pero susubukan natin humabol (I think this is just a temporary setback, but we will still try to catch up) if not next year, by 2022.” he added.

 


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