Pandemic shaved off P3.8-T from PHL economy, NEDA says

 Pandemic shaved off P3.8-T from PHL economy, NEDA says

THE extent of the economy’s losses after nearly two years of the public health crisis was estimated at P3.8 trillion, based on government economic planners’ projections for the size of economy had the pandemic not intervened.

“As the economy bounces back, we now have to recover all the losses we experienced in the last two years,” Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick T. Chua said in a televised briefing late Monday.

“If not for the pandemic, dapat tuloy-tuloy ’yung ating growth (our growth would have been continuous),” and estimated the size of the economy at P25.3 trillion by 2022, stripping out the pandemic’s impact.

The agency Mr. Chua heads, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), currently estimates the size of the economy at P21.5 trillion this year.

The P3.8 trillion gap between the two estimates includes P1.3 trillion in lost household income, P2.2 trillion in lost corporate income, and P300 billion in indirect taxes foregone.

The shift to the more relaxed Alert Level 1 quarantine setting, he said, will help speed up the recovery. NEDA estimates that P9.4 billion will be added to the economy each week with the easing of restrictions this month.

The ranks of the unemployed are also expected to fall by about 170,000 over the next quarter.

If the entire Philippines shifts to Alert Level 1, he added, the additional economic activity is valued at P16.5 billion each week.

The employment recovery at the end of last year will likely drive economic growth in 2022 despite the effects of the Omicron variant, First Metro Investment Corp. (FMIC) and University of Asia and the Pacific (UA&P) said in a joint report on Tuesday.

“A surge in Omicron-variant cases in January notwithstanding, we think growth will accelerate in 2022 specially considering the huge job gains in the fourth quarter of 2021,” FMIC and UA&P in their market call report.

Infrastructure spending will support growth in the first half because election spending bans exclude major projects, the report said.

“Manufacturing will likely continue to robustly expand in the first half, despite the usual slowdown in January after the Christmas holidays.”

Meanwhile, Mr. Chua said that the resumption of face-to-face schooling increases economic activity by about P12 billion a week, with services like accommodation, food, and transport for students resuming. — Jenina P. Ibañez