Philippines Sees Economy Improving This Quarter as Curbs Eased

The Philippines sees growth picking up in the current quarter after virus restrictions wereeased, even as data due Tuesday is likely to show the economy continued to contract in the three months through September.

The government expects its move last month to loosen curbs on movement and reopen more businesses “will have a better impact” on output in the final three months of the year, Economic Planning Secretary Karl Chua said Monday.

“The reality is that we will be living with the virus for some time,” Chua said at a virtual forum. Economic managers see lockdowns as a last resort to contain Southeast Asia’s second-worst coronavirus outbreak, he said.

The Philippines is set to release third-quarter gross domestic product data Tuesday, with a 9.6% contraction expected, according to the median forecast in a Bloomberg survey of 20 economists. The government expects the economy to shrink as much as6.6% this year.

Revised data Monday from the country’s statistics agency showed the economycontracted more than initially thought in the second quarter — down 16.9% year-on-year, rather than the 16.5% decline first reported. The real estate sector fell 29.7%, compared with the 20.1% drop in the preliminary data.

Manila’s economy — which accounts for almost one-third of the country’s total output — is already 65% open, but further reopening is hampered by limited public transport, Chua said. It won’t help to continue easing movement restrictions unless employees have a way to get to work, he added.

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