The door to economic recovery is now fully open following a stronger-than-expected gross domestic product expansion of 5.6 percent in 2021, a significant turnaround from the 9.6-percent contraction a year ago
The COVID-19 pandemic virtually shut down all activities at the start of the pandemic two years ago, resulting in the country’s worst economic performance since World War 2.
But green shoots slowly emerged as mobility restrictions eased. The interagency Development Budget Coordinating Committee now expects the economy to grow even stronger by 7 percent to 9 percent in 2022, and 6 percent to 7 percent for 2023 to 2024.
Economic managers composed of Economic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III and Budget acting Secretary Tina Rose Marie Canda said in a joint statement the strong 2021 performance showed the country was on the correct path to a resilient recovery.
“The stage is now set for growth to accelerate in 2022… The door to our economic recovery is now fully open,” they said.
They cautioned Filipinos, though, to learn how to live with the virus under the new normal. An expansion in the vaccination program―to include children ages 5 to 11―would enable the safe and full reopening of the economy, allow more Filipinos to work and earn a living, and restart all face-to-face learning.
“We are optimistic that we will not only recover to the pre-pandemic level in 2022 [where the annual GDP averages over 6 percent], but achieve an upper middle-income country status. We will continue to pursue structural reforms that will make the country more resilient against future crises and solidify our growth prospects,” they said.
Although COVID-19 risks increased at the beginning of the year due to the highly transmissible Omicron variant, the government was able to limit severe cases and deaths relative to the total number of cases, because of an accelerated vaccination program and improvements in the healthcare system.
With the shortened interval for booster shots and the expansion of the vaccination program to children aged 5 to 11 years old starting February 2022, more Filipinos can avail of these life-saving doses.
When approvals are available, the government also aims to expand vaccination to those aged zero to four years old. The government said all of these will enable the safe and full reopening of the economy.
Government data showed that around 60.09 million people in the country as of Jan. 26, 2022 were fully vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus. Roughly 58.15 million individuals are still waiting for their second dose, while around 6.85 million already received their booster shots.
The Congress recently passed the amendments to the Retail Trade Liberalization Act and the Foreign Investments Act, as well as amendments to the Public Service Act before Congress.
“This landmark legislation will open up key sectors, including telecommunications and transportation, to foreign investments subject to the necessary safeguards. By doing this, it will create more meaningful employment opportunities, enhance innovation, lower prices, and improve the quality of goods and services for all Filipinos,” Chua said.
“Moreover, we strongly support the proposed livestock development and competitiveness bill to help improve the efficiency and competitiveness of the whole value chain for the livestock, poultry, and dairy sectors,” he said.