MANILA (UPDATE) - Philippine economic managers have raised the country's growth forecast for 2021 after third-quarter economic expansion beat forecasts, and as the country hastens the rollout of its COVID-19 vaccination program.
The cabinet-level Development and Budget Coordination Committee said it now expects gross domestic product to grow 5 to 5.5 percent this year, up from a revised 4 to 5 percent growth announced in August.
Economic managers said they revised the 2021 growth forecast after GDP expanded 7.1 percent from July to September, beating analysts' expectations.
"As we continuously relax restrictions and increase mobility, economic performance is expected to accelerate further in the last quarter of the year," the DBCC said.
The Philippines is also expected to regain its 2019 economic output by next year, with the economy seen growing 7 to 9 percent growth for 2022 and 6 to 7 percent growth for 2023 and 2024.
"With our strong economic performance in 2021, the DBCC is optimistic that the country’s GDP will return to its pre-pandemic level by 2022," the DBCC said.
Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Chua said that the economy has already averaged 4.9 percent growth by the third quarter, and the fourth quarter expansion is expected to be even faster.
"I do not know the exact number but I think Q4 growth should also be 7 to 8 percent year-on-year to hit the 5 to 5.5. More or less. that is where we are headed, I hope we can do much better,” Chua said.
Budget Undersecretary Rolando Toledo said the DBCC also acknowledges the threat of the Omicron COVID-19 variant, as well as the possibility of more variants like it in the future.
"While the threat of new COVID-19 variants may persist in the short-term, we are now in a much stronger position to manage possible spikes in cases and safely reopen the economy to alert level 1 in January 2022. Our effective management of COVID-19 will solidify our recovery and sustain our growth beyond this pandemic,” Tolentino said.
Due to what observers said was one of the longest and strictest lockdowns in the world, the Philippine economy suffered its worst recession since World War 2, shrinking 9.6 percent in 2020.
After 5 straight quarters of year-on-year contraction, the economy began expanding again in the second quarter.
The DBCC's upward revision follows the Asian Development Bank's raising of its growth forecast announced earlier on Tuesday.
The World Bank also raised its growth forecast for the Philippines to 5.3 percent from 4.3 percent.
With a report from Warren de Guzman, ABS-CBN News