THE year 2021 will be focused on recovery, and it is expected to usher in new sets of opportunities for the business community, an economist said.
Dr. Jesus Estanislao, founding director of the Institute for Solidarity in Asia and the Institute for Corporate Directors, said the country will grapple with the effects of the coronavirus pandemic until next year, but its economy will slowly show signs of progress.
“We will monitor what is going on. Poverty levels are up dramatically while unemployment is very high. Quite a lot of businesses are closed and when you go to various types of sectors like retail, restaurant, transportation, entertainment, the list is quite long,” he said during the Mandaue Chamber of Commerce and Industry virtual general membership assembly on Friday, Dec. 18, 2020.
Estanislao pointed out that the volume of business declined by 60 to 70 percent in 2020.
“That is huge. That’s bad news,” he said.
But he sees a slow recovery in the first half of 2020 that will soon pick up in the second half.
“The first part of 2021 may be slow, but the second half is going to be fast. By the end of 2021, the Philippine economy is expected to register a positive growth of six percent,” he said.
Estanislao said this will bring in new sets of opportunities and new challenges for the city government of Mandaue, MCCI and for many businesses.
“While we listen to the prophets of gloom, we have to be realistic and count our blessings, problems and count many opportunities that are opening for us.”
The Philippines finished 2019 with a 5.9 percent gross domestic growth, missing the low end of the government’s six percent to 6.5 percent expansion target. In 2018, the economy grew 6.2 and remains one of Asia’s fastest growing economies.
Before the coronavirus pandemic battered the Philippine economy, it was already challenged by the Taal volcano eruption which affected livelihoods and led to a decline in tourism in the first quarter of 2020. Covid-19 became a global pandemic in March, which saw a significant economic contraction by 16.9 percent and a significant increase in the unemployment rate at 17.6 percent in the second quarter given the closure of businesses and the loss of income during the enhanced community quarantine.
In the second half, while the economy is gradually reopening and the fight against Covid-19 continues, the country faced several typhoons—Ofel, Nika, Pepito, Quinta, Rolly and Ulysses, that hit businesses and the agricultural sector.
“This has not been an easy year, but in every crisis, there is also an opportunity to move our country forward, as our past experiences show,” said Kendrick Chua, acting Socioeconomic Planning Secretary. (JOB)