MANILA - The Asian Development Bank has kept its growth outlook for the Philippines despite the downgrade in developing Asia, due to the improved economic measures and its COVID-19 containment plans, its chief economist said Thursday.
The easing of restrictions especially in the NCR, gains in the COVID-19 vaccination rollout as well as continued infrastructure spending could drive the country's "strong economic recovery," ADB chief economist Yasuyuki Sawada told ANC.
The gross domestic product (GDP) could grow by 4.5 percent in 2021 while the projection for entire developing Asia for the year was slightly lowered to 7.2 percent from 7.3 percent, the lender said.
"We maintained the 4.5 percent growth outlook for the Philippines because of the somewhat improved upside risks for the growth. Coming from the gradual easing of mobility restrictions, especially in NCR as well as initial progress in the government’s national rollout of COVID-19 vaccines," Sawada said.
"In the medium term, the continuation of investment in infrastructure, that’s really key in the Philippines to achieve a strong bounce back from the COVID-19 pandemic," he added.
The government's social assistance program and the gradual pickup in household spending fueled by a stronger remittance growth could also boost the recovery, he said.
However, Sawada noted that private investments remain "sluggish" and that the country's vaccine rollout is "rather slow-moving."
Sawada said the potential resurgence of confirmed COVID-19 cases due to the new Delta variant is a "downside risk" to the recovery.
Procurement of vaccines, the rollout and implementation of its vaccine plan as well as the ability of the government to fine-tune targetted mobility restrictions are “critical” in addressing the new Delta variant, he said.
The Department of Health recently confirmed that the more transmissible COVID-19 Delta variant has entered the country. Experts warn of the "worst-case scenario" while urging the government to beef up testing and its vaccination drive.