MANILA – Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez on Tuesday said recent challenges could dampen economic expansion but "not enough" to reduce growth projections for the year.
The new coronavirus strain, the African Swine Fever and the Taal Volcano eruption pose challenges to the economy but are unlikely to cause a “dramatic reduction” in the gross domestic product (GDP) growth seen to expand by 6.5 to 7.5 percent this year," Dominguez said.
“At this moment, it is reasonable to expect that while these developments might slightly restrain our economic expansion, these threats are not enough to force a dramatic reduction in our growth estimates," Dominguez said in a Senate hearing on the new coronavirus.
"We are standing by our working projection of a GDP growth rate between 6.5 percent and 7.5 percent for 2020,” he added.
Flights to and from China have been suspended to contain the spread of the coronavirus.
The outbreak, which can affect tourism and trade, is in the “early stages” making it a challenging to estimate potential economic costs, Dominguez said.
The full impact of the Taal Volcano eruption, meanwhile, can only be assessed “until it actually happens,” he said. The volcano's ash-driven eruption on Jan. 12 affected farms in Batangas, with losses pegged in the billions.
Measures to contain the ASF are also continuously being implemented by the Department of Agriculture (DA), which has culled some 193,350 pigs to prevent its spread, the DOF said. This led to losses for swine breeders, it said.
The Philippine economy grew 5.9 percent in 2019, slightly below the government forecast of 6 to 7 percent.
-- with a report from Warren De Guzman, ABS-CBN News