‘Absolutely,’ there’ll be no recession in PHL’

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AN economist-lawmaker on Sunday seconded President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s statement in the World Economic Forum that the Philippine growth outlook remains bright despite global recession fears, with the House tax panel chairman asserting that, “absolutely there will be no recession for the Philippines in 2023.”

Returning to Manila at the weekend from the 2023 World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. said the country has improved its international reputation as an investment destination.

During the business forum, Marcos said the country showed itself as an attractive location for multinational firms and is now tagged as one of the best-performing economies in Southeast Asia.

“It is good we were able to go here since it allowed us to be included in the so-called VIP club…. This includes Vietnam, Indonesia, and the Philippines. These are what they considered the most promising economies in Asia,” Marcos said in Filipino during an interview.

While in Davos, Marcos and the Philippine delegates, which accompanied him, were able to secure investment pledges in mining and processing, digital solutions, logistics, telecommunications, and renewable fuel.

The President also noted the event gave the country an opportunity to “help mend the fissures that have fragmented the world” by pushing for restoration of normalcy in international geopolitics and global trade.

Marcos said he is confident the country’s “successful” participation at the WEF will translate into concrete gains.

“Our WEF engagement has enabled the many leaders and experts in government, in business, civil organization and in the academe that were in attendance to receive the good news that the Philippines is leading economic recovery and performance not only in the Asia-Pacific but also in the whole world,” Marcos said.

This was also echoed by the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) in a media forum during the weekend, saying the participation of the President at the WEF greatly helped in boosting investment confidence in the country.

Growth despite recession elsewhere

Relatedly, House Ways and Means Chairman Joey Sarte Salceda said the Philippines will be in positive growth territory regardless of what happens for the rest of the world.

“We have removed restrictions on so many key sectors – public services, the retail trade sector, the energy sector – that the country will offset global recessionary forces,” he said in a statement.

“Pent up demand will also ensure that our economy, which is at least 70 percent driven by domestic demand, will have plenty of growth runway,” he added.

According to Salceda, the Philippines has many promising sectors, including mining and electronics, that will remain resilient through the pandemic.

“Semiconductor demand will remain strong and above supply regardless of the global growth average. We saw that during the pandemic, when everybody thought the sky would fall,” he said.

“And, if the world doesn’t go through a recession, there is definitely room to grow beyond the 6.5-percent projection of our economic managers. We can go for 8 percent,” he added.

Salceda also sees inflation tapering off in 2023.

“We’re getting a better hold of agricultural smuggling issues. I’m confident that Congress’s efforts to expose how artificial onion and meat prices are, will help pop the bubble,” the lawmaker said.

Salceda sees 2023 inflation hitting the 4.0 level by mid-year, saying such will boost consumer demand further.

Salceda said that “therefore, our strategy now must be, ‘how do we sell the Philippines as a safe haven for investments when the world feels fearful of putting money everywhere else’?”

Besides the liberalized sectors, the President’s marketing of the Philippines through avenues such as the Maharlika Investment Fund will help direct investments towards “agriculture, energy, climate change adaptation, and digitalization.”

“If we will pursue the strategy of being a safe haven, a place where investors can make a return despite global prospects, then we should have avenues to channel those investments. That’s why the Maharlika Investment Fund, among other investment prospects, is crucial,” he said.

“As I said then, I think Vietnam and India will be our biggest competitors for both growth levels and for foreign investments. That’s why we to be more creative,” he added.

Independent think tank IBON Foundation, however, noted the optimistic forecasts by the current administration are not backed by data.