Philippines eyes measures to shield economy from coronavirus: Cabinet officials

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 05 2020 03:11 PM

MANILA -- The Philippines is studying possible measures to mitigate the impact of the global coronavirus outbreak on the economy, Cabinet officials said Thursday.

President Rodrigo Duterte's economic team "will recommend appropriate measures in due time," Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado told ABS-CBN News.

The government is "studying all options as part of contingency measures to reduce the impact of the outbreak on the economy," Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles told ABS-CBN News.

Economic managers have set a gross domestic product growth target of 6.5 percent to 7.5 percent this year and no revisions have been made since outbreak worsened at the start of 2020.

Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Gov. Benjamin Diokno earlier signaled a deeper cut of 75 basis points in the benchmark interest rate this year instead of 50 basis points to help spur economic activity.

The Federal Reserve on Wednesday announced an emergency 50-point cut in the US benchmark interest rate to shield its economy from the coronavirus. Such a reduction in between policy meetings has not been seen since the 2008 Lehman Brothers collapse.

Nograles said Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez assured his Cabinet colleagues that the Philippines remained in a “very good” fiscal and monetary position, with a “large buffer” to stimulate the economy.

The World Travel and Tourism Council estimated that the deadly coronavirus outbreak would cost world tourism at least $22 billion owing to a drop in spending by Chinese tourists.

The outbreak began in China in December and is now present in nearly 80 countries and territories, killing more than 3,000 people and infecting over 90,000 others.

The Philippines has so far recorded 3 cases of the virus, all tourists from the city of Wuhan in Hubei, where the virus was first detected.

-with a report from Agence France-Presse