Pandemic to slow Philippine economy 'substantially,' says ADB

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 03 2020 12:48 PM

The Metro Manila skyline seen from Pasig City on April 1, 2020. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA – The coronavirus pandemic could "significantly" slow Philippine economic growth this year before rebounding in 2021, the Asian Development Bank said Friday.

Gross domestic product could expand by 2 percent this year, from 5.9 percent in 2019, the ADB said. Socioeconomic Planning Sec. Ernesto Pernia earlier said that depending on how long the crisis would last, GDP could contract by 0.6 percent or grow by 4.3 percent.

“This unprecedented and extraordinary public health emergency brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic will substantially slow down economic growth this year, with most of the contraction in the economy occurring in the second quarter,” said ADB Country Director for the Philippines Kelly Bird.

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas' actions will help offset a slowdown in consumption and tourism, the ADB said. The central bank recently reduced both the benchmark interest rate and the reserve requirement ratio for banks.

Growth of 6.5 percent is possible in 2021 if the pandemic is contained by June, the ADB said. Sustained interest in the government’s Build, Build, Build program and private consumption will drive economic growth next year, it said.

The entire island of Luzon, home to roughly half of the country’s 100 million population, was placed on lockdown from March 17 to April 12 to stop the spread of COVID-19.

The Philippines as of Thursday confirmed 2,633 coronavirus infections, including 107 deaths and 51 recoveries. 

Globally, confirmed infections topped the 1-million mark, according to Johns Hopkins University in the US. A Reuters tally placed the death toll at 48,300.