Philippine economy likely to return to pre-pandemic level by 2022: NEDA

Warren De Guzman, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 09 2021 01:57 PM

People visit the Greenhills Shopping Center in San Juan City on November 6, 2021. Several Filipinos went out on the first weekend since restrictions were eased down to alert level 2, allowing all ages inside malls and public places. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News
People visit the Greenhills Shopping Center in San Juan City on November 6, 2021. Several Filipinos went out on the first weekend since restrictions were eased down to alert level 2, allowing all ages inside malls and public places. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - The Philippine economy is seen to return to its pre-pandemic level as early as early the first quarter of 2022, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Chua said Tuesday.

This as the country's gross domestic product (GDP) expanded by 7.1 percent in the third quarter after shrinking 11.6 percent in the same period last year.

The P13.32 trillion GDP in the first 9 months of the year is still down by about 5.7 percent compared to the same period in 2019 or its pre-pandemic level which was at P14.1 trillion, National Statistician Usec. Dennis Mapa said.

The Q3 growth was slower than the 12 percent revised GDP growth in Q2, data showed. 

Chua said the government was able to contain the new COVID-19 Delta variant while sustaining economic growth.

The 2-week enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) and 1 month of modified ECQ imposed within the period, backed with the accelerated inoculation drive supported the economic recovery, he said.

“We are monitoring these two indicators. So to get to pre-pandemic nominal GDP level, it will be certainly in 2022. Even as early as the first quarter," Chua said in a virtual briefing.

"But for the UMIC, upper middle income country, it is really slated end of 2022 or early 2023, but I think given the strong progress, the likelihood of achieving that even within 2022 is now higher," he added. 

It has been the country's goal to upgrade its classification to a Middle Income Country even before the pandemic.

Chua said the easing of the COVID-19 restrictions could further boost recovery and improve unemployment which was at 8.9 percent in September. 

But the lowering of restrictions in Metro Manila to Alert Level 1 from Alert Level 2 is only likely to be implemented by early 2022, he said.

"Of course, we do not want to rush things, we want to make sure that we really implement well alert level 2 before we go to alert level 1 otherwise a reversal might offset the gains we have seen. So we will do this slowly, but we are on the right direction," Chua said. 

The economy is gaining at least P3.6 billion per week Metro Manila is under Alert Level 2, this will grow further under Alert Level 1, NEDA estimates showed.

The economy grew at an average of 4.9 percent for the first 3 quarters of 2021, in line with the government target of an average of 4 to 5 percent growth this year.

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