Market goers at Brgy. Quirino 3A in Project 3, Quezon City observes social distancing in this photo taken March 22, 2020.
The STAR/Michael Varcas
Economic managers revisit growth targets as pandemic drags on
Ian Nicolas Cigaral ( - July 10, 2020 - 5:09pm

MANILA, Philippines — President Duterte's economic managers will revisit their growth targets this year as new data reveals the extent of damage caused by coronavirus pandemic on the economy, acting Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua said Friday.

"What we're seeing in the latest data in April and May is that the impact of (enhanced community quarantine) was more severe than expected," Chua told reporters in a virtual press conference via Zoom.

"So we're doing this as objective and adaptive as possible. Once we see the newest data we will of course revise our macroeconomic assumptions," he added.

Official gross domestic product (GDP) data for April-June period will not come out until August, but economic managers have indicated contraction was likely worse than the 0.2% recorded in the first quarter, already the weakest performance since the final three months of 1998.

The Duterte administration expects GDP to shrink between 2-3.4% this year.

On Tuesday, no less than the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas said there is no chance for economic growth this year as the pandemic lingers.

The government only started easing the ECQ imposed in Luzon for nearly three months on June 1. According to Chua, the "good news" is there is "gradual recoveries starting May and June."

Chua also said that some flagship infrastructure projects have resumed, which should provide employment to displaced workers.

"All of these are actually being reviewed and once we prepare the final budget proposal for 2021, there could be some adjustments," he added.

But for Ruben Carlo Asuncion, chief economist at UnionBank of the Philippines, any adjustments to the government's growth targets for this year would be on a "downward" path.

"Currently, our GDP forecast is lower than the government's -3.4%," he said.

Separately, Cid Terosa, dean of the University of Asia and the Pacific’s School of Economics, said a positive growth is impossible this year.

"I believe, however, that positive growth is unlikely this year since domestic consumption spending has remained in the doldrums," Terosa said.

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