by Lawrence Agcaoili (The Philippine Star), 25 May 2021
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines may return to pre-pandemic level of economic output only by the end of next year, making it the laggard in the region as the country continues to grapple with the COVID-19 outbreak, according to Moody’s Analytics.
In a commentary titled “The Philippines struggles to shake the pandemic,” Moody’s Analytics economists Katrina Ell and Dave Chia said the country is having difficulty containing new COVID-19 infections, resulting in the reimposition of strict lockdown measures from March 29 to May 14.
“In contrast, China, Taiwan, South Korea and Vietnam have returned to previous output levels, while Indonesia and Thailand are on track to return this year. This makes the Philippines the clear laggard in Asia,” Ell and Chia said.
COVID-19 infections in the country breached 1.1 million with about 20,000 deaths despite placing the National Capital Region and adjacent provinces (NCR Plus) under enhanced community quarantine from March 29 to April 11, and under modified enhanced community quarantine from April 12 to May 14.
Moody’s Analytics said a contributor to the country’s inability to control local infections in the earlier months came from the healthcare system being centralized, wherein city and town leaders are responsible for the health system rather than the central government.
“As a result, there were no consistent policies and rigorousness around contact tracing, funding, and quarantine measures for those infected and their close contacts,” it said.
The research arm of the Moody’s Group also said the country remains vulnerable to local infection spikes, inhibiting the economic recovery as only 2.7 percent of the 108 million population have so far received one dose of vaccine while a meager 0.8 percent is fully vaccinated.
“The Philippines lags most of its neighbors in its local vaccination drive. There have been issues around securing sufficient vaccination doses, though the problem has eased somewhat with the government recently increasing the number of vaccinations sites,” Moody’s Analytics said.
Moody’s Analytics expects the Philippine economy growing by 5.3 percent this year after a record 9.6 percent contraction last year.