‘Pre-pandemic growth likely by H2 next year'

© STAR/KJ Rosales, file ‘Pre-pandemic growth likely by H2 next year’

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines is expected to return to pre-pandemic economic growth levels by the second half of next year.

In a report, ANZ Research, a unit of the Oceania bank, said the Philippine economy is likely to rebound with a growth of 4.2 percent this year and 6.2 percent next year.

“These forecasts imply that the Philippines’ gross domestic product will rebound to its 2019 level only in the second half of 2022,” ANZ said.

Due to intermittent lockdowns with the resurgence of COVID cases, economic managers slashed the country’s growth target to a range of four to five percent instead of six to seven percent but retained next year’s target at seven to nine percent.

“High contagion rates and a slower vaccination progress than most of its regional peers characterize the current state of the Philippine economy. The underlying demand conditions, too, reflect weakness which means the recipe to recovery is yet not in place as and when the health situation improves,” ANZ said.

Despite imposing the longest and strictest lockdowns in the world, the number of COVID-19 cases in the Philippines is now nearing 2.5 million with more than 37,000 deaths.

“On growth, it once again acknowledged the pace of the recovery remains subservient to control of the pandemic, pace of the vaccination program, recalibration of quarantine protocols and the fiscal policy stance,” it said.

According to ANZ, there is no reason for the Monetary Board to unwind policy accommodation amid the current economic trajectory and underlying output gap.

“There are also other challenges to address on the BSP’s part including ensuring efficient transmission of policy support at the targeted level. At present, there is sufficient liquidity but weak credit offtake,” ANZ said

Last Thursday, the BSP kept the benchmark interest rate at a record low of two percent for the seventh straight rate setting meeting to allow the economy to gain more traction and fully recover from the pandemic-induced recession.

However, it raised its inflation forecasts to 4.4 percent this year, 3.3 percent next year, and 3.2 percent in 2023.

Inflation averaged 4.4 percent from January to August, exceeding the upper end of the BSP’s two to four percent inflation target.

“However, we once again emphasize that supply-side disruptions, such as weather events and the climb in food prices caused by the African swine fever, underscore the current spike in inflation,” it said.

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