Philippine Officials Credit Flexible Strategies for 2021 Economic Rebound

Dennis Jay Santos
Davao, Philippines
Philippine Officials Credit Flexible Strategies for 2021 Economic Rebound A fish vendor rests while waiting for customers at the Magsaysay Fish Market in Dagupan city, Philippines, Dec. 21, 2021.
Jojo Riñoza/BenarNews

Flexible strategies enabled the Philippine economy to grow by 5.6 percent in 2021 after a steep recession caused by the coronavirus pandemic, government officials said Thursday in unveiling end-of-year figures.

In addition, the gross domestic product grew by 7.7 percent during the last quarter of 2021 over the same period a year earlier.

“The numbers for 2021 show an economy primed to break out,” said Karl Kendrick Chua, the secretary for socio-economic planning. “The door to our economic recovery is now fully open.” 

“In the last quarter, we further recalibrated our strategies by shifting to the alert-level system with granular lockdowns. Our efforts to safely reopen the economy allowed more Filipinos to work and earn their income,” Chua said. 

The government had previously forecast that the economy would rise between 5 percent and 5.5 percent in 2021. By comparison, the economy shrank by 9.5 percent in 2020, the first year of the pandemic, the Philippine Statistics Authority reported last year.

“Our strategies in 2021 have culminated in a full-year growth that exceeded targets and expectations,” he said.

Chua said the “sustained growth” occurred because the national government gave local governments the power to shut down or allow economic activity. 

As expected, the industry and services sectors grew by 8.2 percent and 5.3 percent, respectively, the socioeconomic planning office said. As consumer confidence grew, private consumption rebounded as well, growing by 4.2 percent from a contraction of nearly 8 percent the previous year. 

Even as the risk of COVID-19 infections grew in recent weeks because of the Omicron variant, the government has been successful in limiting its spread among the general population, Chua said. 

On Thursday, the health department reported 18,191 daily COVID-19 infections, bringing the total to about 3.49 million since the pandemic began here in early 2020. The nation recorded 74 deaths, pushing the total to more than 53,700.

Adding to efforts to control the spread of the coronavirus, the government is increasing efforts to deliver booster shots and planning to offer vaccines to children ages 5 to 11 by February. More than 58 million people have been fully vaccinated, about 12 million short for the country to gain herd immunity, the health department has said. 

“When approvals are available, the government also aims to expand vaccination to those ages zero to 4 years old. All of these will enable the safe and full reopening of the economy, allowing more Filipinos to work and earn a living and restarting all face-to-face learning,” Chua said. 

He said the government expected the economy to recover to pre-pandemic levels by the end of the year. 

Meanwhile, acting presidential spokesman Karlo Nograles said the report indicated that the nation has strong fundamentals in maintaining the economy.

He also called on Filipinos to get vaccinated, and cited recent surveys showing that only 2 percent of vaccinated Filipino adults had been infected.

“This is incontrovertible evidence that COVID-19 vaccines protect us, our loved ones and our communities from the virus,” Nograles told reporters.


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