MANILA - The president of one of the country’s biggest conglomerates said he is “cautiously optimistic” over the Philippine economy’s growth prospects for this year.
Fernando Zobel de Ayala, President and COO of Ayala Corp, said he is is hoping gross domestic product grows 5 to 6 percent this year as the economy gradually reopens.
Zobel this level of growth would be “ a very dramatic reversal from what we have seen for this year (2020) for understandable reasons.”
Government economic managers meanwhile are targeting economic growth of between 6.5 to 7.5 percent this year and 8 to 10 percent in 2022.
The Ayala executive said that many companies were on survival mode last year, especially during the worst part of the pandemic, because of the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 outbreak.
But thanks to low interest rates, Ayala Corp was still able to raise capital for its operations and for expansion, Zobel said.
Ayala invested P157 billion pesos last year in expanding its businesses such as telecom, real estate, land, water, he said.
“So I think if companies continue to invest and create jobs, we will be able to help people get out of this crisis. It will not be easy but we have to continue. We have to continue growing the engine of the economy,” Zobel said.
But the Ayala executive also said he was wary of another wave of COVID-19 infections spreading in the Philippines.
“We are seeing around the world that everyone is being faced with the second wave. If we get the phase two, the second wave, the situation will be very different. But if we don’t, every month that passes has started to show better results in terms of consumer behavior, in terms of mobility, in terms of people expanding and investing again.”
The Ayala Group said it is buying 450,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines and donating half of this to the government.