BPI sees slow growth for rest of year, businesses to normalize in 2021

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 29 2020 05:10 PM

MANILA - Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) on Tuesday said it sees sluggish growth for the rest of the year as shown by the modest rise in consumption and people mobility. 

The Ayala-led bank added that there is still a lot of uncertainty despite the easing of quarantine restrictions, and businesses may normalize only within the first half of 2021.

“We are seeing signs of improvement. We saw a pick-up on activity when the government started easing the quarantine. But we are still operating 40 to 45 percent below the mobility levels prior to the pandemic,” said BPI Securities Corp president Haj Narvaez.

He added that the gradual increase in economic activity shows how people and businesses are coping.

“I would argue that companies and businesses have kind of learned that there’s a way to operate and grow their businesses without using the traditional avenue for selling products. So a lot of people are focusing on e-commerce, a lot more people are buying goods online, and more people transferring money via their banking apps to pay for goods and services. So we see a lot of growth potential there,” he said.

Narvaez said foreign investors look at mobility levels as a gauge to assess the situation in the Philippines. While the country has shown improvement, the Philippines still lags behind its neighbors. 

“You can see that the likes of Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam are probably ahead of us in terms of a return to normalcy. I would say the mobility there is probably 20 to 30 percent below the levels prior to the pandemic. So that pretty much explains the concerns of foreign investors.” 

He said that while malls and restaurants are starting to see improvements in customer visits, property developers and restaurant operators will still see a significant year-on-year decline in earnings in the third quarter.

Meanwhile, sectors that will see continued growth despite the pandemic are manufacturing and telecoms, BPI said.