• By The Financial District


The Philippines has continued to step up to the global challenge of carrying out the difficult “balancing act” of saving as many lives as possible from the coronavirus pandemic with as little damage to the economy as possible, before a vaccine or cure brings a definitive end to this unprecedented health crisis, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said.

Dominguez assured the business community the Duterte administration will not rest until the country has prevailed over this challenge, and will intensify its efforts to “solidify the country’s return to the path of inclusive growth” in the face of the global health and economic crisis.

Even with the best efforts to protect lives and livelihoods, Dominguez noted that the Philippines, like almost every other pandemic-stricken economy in the world, has “taken a serious hit.”

He pointed out that the 16.5-percent contraction of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the second quarter underlines the effects of the 11-week strict lockdown that the government put in place from the second week of March to the end of May as the healthcare system and the people were adjusting to the unprecedented pandemic.

Dominguez conceded that President Duterte’s decision to place back Metro Manila and neighboring provinces from the relaxed general community quarantine (GCQ) status to the stricter modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) from August 4-18, in response to this recent surge in COVID-19 cases, will negatively affect livelihoods, consumer demand and production in the short run.

But it will benefit the country in the long haul, he added, if this two-week timeout is used to boost medical resources and prevent the further spread of the virus.

“The Duterte administration will not rest until we have prevailed over this extraordinary challenge. We will redouble our efforts to protect our economic gains over the past three years, prepare our economy for a strong recovery, strengthen our resilience, and solidify our return to the path of inclusive growth,” Dominguez said during the Security Bank Economic Forum 2020, which was held on Thursday last week (August 6) via video conferencing.

“I trust that you will continue to support us in these efforts,” Dominguez told private sector leaders present at the virtual Security Bank event.

He noted that among the Philippines’ credit rating peers, the first semester GDP decline of negative 9 percent reflects what is happening across the globe.

The first-semester contractions among the economies of Italy is by 11.6 percent, Mexico by 10.2 percent, and Indonesia by 1.2 percent.

“We are not alone in our struggles, although the unique fiscal and macroeconomic strengths with which we entered 2020 will continue to provide us with solid footing as we confront our economic challenges,” Dominguez said.