ELECTIONS 2022: Daily wage earners, MSMEs suffered most in pandemic, expert says

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Diwa Guinigundo, former deputy governor of Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas. Guinigundo said it was the daily wage earners who suffered the most during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo: Getty Images)
Diwa Guinigundo, former deputy governor of Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas. Guinigundo said it was the daily wage earners who suffered the most during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo: Getty Images)

All economic forecasts project that the Philippine economy is poised to grow in the coming years. However, there is no denying the fact that when the Philippine economy contracted due to the pandemic, it was the daily wage earners who suffered the most.

According to a report by the National Economic Development Authority, the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was higher than expected, growing by 7.7 percent in the last quarter of 2021, an indication that “the Philippines is on track to rapid recovery,” according to Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua.

For 2022 until 2024, the forecast is that the country will grow by seven to nine percent in 2022, and six to seven percent in 2023 and 2024.

But Diwa Guinigundo, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas’ former deputy governor, said that one of the economic scars of the pandemic was the further worsening of poverty and inequality in the country.

“When people have been out of jobs, it’s very difficult to get back. When workers are laid-off, manufacturers, employers, producers will also have a difficult time restarting their operations. There are downtimes in the production process and those are what we call economic scars,” Guinigundo said in an interview with Yahoo Philippines.

The impact on small businesses has been severe as well. When the lockdown was imposed and mobility was restricted during the early days and months of the pandemic, some Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSME) had difficulty servicing their debt, and were just forced to close down.

“It took us time before we were able to reverse those five quarters of negative growth … It’s good that there was a big recovery during [the first three quarters of 2021], but still, there is still the uncertainty of economic scars due to the possible unwinding of policy support and of COVID-19,” Guinigundo added. “We’re not sure how it’s going to fan out now and in the future.”

Guinigundo also noted that the two years of no face-to-face classes will take a toll on the economy, as it will have an adverse effect on the students’ capability on training and education.

“When you have this kind of gap in training and education, the economy is bound to suffer in the process because you would have less educated, less trained members of the labor force moving forward,” Guinigundo said.

Marvin Joseph Ang is a news and creative writer who follows developments in politics, democracy, and popular culture. He advocates for a free press and national democracy. The views expressed are his own.

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