Philippines has economic 'firepower' to fight coronavirus, says IMF

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 26 2020 11:04 AM | Updated as of Mar 26 2020 11:31 AM

A man walks through the Quezon Boulevard underpass in Quiapo, Manila on March 24, 2020. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA -- The Philippines has the economic "firepower" to fight the coronavirus pandemic and can draw from the International Monetary Fund's emergency financing, the Washington-based lender said Thursday.

Manila has high international reserves, low public debt, and fiscal space both to spend more and increase liquidity in the banking system, said IMF representative to the Philippines Yongzheng Yang.

"This gives you the firepower to fight the virus," he told ANC.

Watch more in iWant or TFC.tv

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas in the last week cut the benchmark interest rate by 50 basis points, cut the reserve requirement ratio for banks by 200 basis points and announced that it would buy P300 billion in government bonds.

Should the Philippines avail of IMF financing, it will carry 1.5-percent interest, payable for up to 5 years and with a 3-year grace period, he said.

"It is very important to have a unified approach, coordinated approach versus the virus," he said. "The virus affects all aspects of our lives. To be effective in this fight, you need a whole of government and whole of society approach."