Data shows economy starting to recover from pandemic: NEDA chief

By Leslie Gatpolintan

July 8, 2020, 9:55 pm

<p>Acting Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua</p>

Acting Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua

MANILA – The economy is starting to rebound from the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic but returning to positive growth depends on proactive implementation of the economic recovery program, the country’s chief economist said on Wednesday.

“We have prepared the macroeconomic framework as of mid-May and we were looking at data starting March and April. What we are seeing are the following: the monthly data that is coming out on trade, on production, are actually starting to show improvements,” acting Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua said in a briefing after a virtual pre-State-of-the-Nation (SONA) forum.

Chua, also acting National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Secretary, cited the latest results of the Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) indicating that manufacturing performance improved to more normal territories in June from the contraction in April and May.

“We are also seeing a significant part of the economy actually loosening up from the quarantine, so these are I think important elements to suggest that the economy is starting to recover,” he added.

The government placed the entire island of Luzon under an enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) from March 17 until May 15 in response to the Covid-19 pandemic in the country. This quarantine was extended for Metro Manila until May 31.

Metro Manila and other areas have remained under a general community quarantine status until July 15.

“How soon or how fast we will reach positive territory is really dependent on how we proactively respond with our recovery program and how the public will respond also by cooperating, maintaining the minimum health standards, social distancing,” he said.

The Philippine economy declined by 0.2 percent in January to March 2020, its first contraction in two decades, mainly due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Finance Assistant Secretary Jose Antonio Lambino II said the Bureau of Customs (BOC) surpassed last month’s collection target by 4.4 percent to PHP42.54 billion, as against the June target of PHP40.74 billion.

“This is another sign that there may be a rising economic activity,” he said.

Meanwhile, Chua said the economic recovery program prioritizes sustaining food supply and the Build, Build, Build infrastructure program.

“Build, Build, Build program is one of the key elements of our recovery and that will also create jobs we need. This has been actually given the highest priority,” he added. “At the same time, we are hoping the private sector will be having the same interest and speed as we want to implement this program.” (PNA)