by Louella Desiderio – The Philippine Star, 1 Jan 2021
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said the economy likely hit last year’s growth target despite the damage from Super Typhoon Odette recently, citing the eased restrictions which have restored economic activity and jobs.
“We believe we can achieve the target for the full year of 5.5 percent,” Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said in an interview with radio station dzME yesterday.
The Philippine economy expanded by 4.9 percent as of September.
Earlier in December, the inter-agency Development Budget Coordination Committee raised the 2021 gross domestic product (GDP) growth projection for the economy to five to 5.5 percent, from four to five percent.
Lopez said the agency’s expectation is based on the easing of restrictions, which started in October.
“We saw the easing of restrictions and decline in cases. We saw with the reopening of the economy that employees were able to return to work. In that situation, we are slowly seeing the return of economic activity,” he said.
He said many establishments such as restaurants and retailers in malls have reported that almost or over 80 percent of their pre-pandemic level sales have been restored.
“Yes, there are challenges. We were hit with COVID, closed sectors, but every time there is reopening, we see strong economic activity,” he said.
For 2022, he said the economy is expected to post an even higher growth of 6.5 to seven percent.
“We just need to have the different sectors open,” he said.
While the new Omicron variant of the virus has emerged, he is hopeful that should it spread, cases would be mild and those infected would not need to be hospitalized.
“We hope it does not overwhelm our health system and there would be no need to impose restrictions or close the economy,” he said.