DTI sees economy back to prepandemic levels by next year


AFTER the Philippine economy exited recession, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is anticipating a return to prepandemic growth levels by next year.

Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said in a virtual event on Wednesday that the 11.8-percent economic growth in the second quarter—the first uptick in over a year—will provide the country momentum for the rest of 2021.

“Prospects for 2021 are encouraging and will allow us to recover to prepandemic levels in 2022. This will prevent long-term scarring and productivity losses,” he said.

Lopez is banking on the information technology-business process management (IT-BPM) and export industries in driving the economy towards recovery.

The IT-BPM industry has been “instrumental” in providing employment and boosting productivity, Lopez said, noting that it eyes to grow by at least 5 percent this year. The sector has adjusted its business model to adapt in pandemic, implementing work-from-home arrangements amid mobility restrictions.

Last year, the employment in the IT-BPM industry grew by 1.8 percent to 1.32 million while revenues rose by 1.4 percent to $26.7 billion.

Exports, meanwhile, are seen to continue to be driven by the electronics sector as this accounts for bulk of the outbound shipments. Lopez said the industry is allowed to operate amid the lockdown measure, which can help production.

Addressing the unemployment, Lopez said that the partnership between the National Employment Recovery Strategy Task Force and the Employers’ Confederation of the Philippines aims to generate 1 million jobs this year amid the pandemic. The project seeks to employ Filipinos in several sectors, including construction, manufacturing, tourism, hospitality and export sectors.

The DTI chief said the economic recovery will also be supported by the vaccination program, in addition to safe reopening of the economy “at the appropriate time.”

“This ECQ [enhanced community quarantine], the concern with Delta is a serious one, but definitely will be a temporary one because [with] the preventive ECQ, we hope we will never see…[a] big surge [like in] other countries,” Lopez said. Metro Manila is under ECQ from August 6 to 20.

Spending, jabs—Finex

WHILE the second quarter saw some growth, Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines (Finex) noted that the figures remained below the prepandemic levels.

“Getting close to the official growth targets would be helped by increased public spending, particularly on infrastructure, sustained rapid vaccination to support business and consumer confidence, and improvement in health care capacity,” Finex President Francisco ED. Lim said.

Calibrated measures

THE DTI chief attributed the second-quarter economic growth to the “government’s continuing efforts to safely balance lives and livelihoods.” He said that the administration is implementing calibrated measures to manage the risks when reopening the economy.

Lopez explained that essential activities were also given priority amid the lockdown to allow key businesses to operate.

“The robust performance was sustained as we focused the restrictions on the less essential activities while allowing the rest of the economy, especially the essential and labor-intensive sectors such as the exports and BPO [business-process outsour-cing] sectors to operate, so as to save jobs and income,” Lopez said.

The trade official hopes that the current ECQ will be able to prevent the spread of the Delta variant, allowing the government to ease the restrictions.

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