PHILIPPINES: Improving Pandemic Response and Increasing Vaccination Can Strengthen Recovery.
By: FRANCISCO, JAN LESTER F. BSN 4-B (Team PyutSURE RNs)
MANILA, JUNE 8, 2021 – Weighed down by the COVID-19 epidemic, the Philippine economy is expected to expand at 4.7 percent this year, before picking up to 5.9 percent in 2022 and 6.0 percent in 2023, according to the World Bank's Philippines Economic Update (PEU).
Due to a larger than expected economic contraction in the first quarter, the reimposition to stricter quarantine measures in April and May in response to surge in Covid-19 infections and the lingering challenges of high inflation and losses in the household incomes, these forecasts reflect revisions to growth projections published in the April 2021 World Bank East Asia and the Pacific Economic Update.
"The global economic recovery, particularly among the country's trade partners, will boost exports and raise remittances, bolstering the Philippines' recovery," said Ndiame Diop, World Bank Country Director for Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Thailand. "To limit infection rates and enhance consumer and business confidence, the country may take advantage of this trend by increasing immunization and enhancing overall pandemic response."
According to the PEU, the emergence of new COVID-19 cases, as well as rising inflation, has stymied early signs of economic recovery in 2021. People’s mobility increased when lockdown limitations were removed in early 2021, and families work and wages steadily improved. The improved external environment also resulted in increased trade. However, a surge in COVID-19 cases that began in late March, coinciding with rising inflation, undermined the recovery.
According to the PEU, the epidemic has wreaked havoc on poor families' health and education. According to a recent World Bank household survey, two (2) out of every five (5) households were concerned about running out of food in the coming days. Due to a lack of income, households reported difficulty receiving health services. This was stated by three out of five households as a cause for not receiving much-needed medical treatment.
Although the majority of households said their school-aged children were enrolled in school, the effectiveness of remote learning is a major problem, particularly among impoverished families. Only 40% of the poorest households have access to the internet, compared to 70% of the wealthiest households.
According to Kevin Chua, a senior economist at the World Bank, effective delivery of social safety programs will contribute in reducing the extent to which the crisis has harmed poor and vulnerable families. "Higher levels of child malnutrition, especially among the poor, have already developed as a result of COVID-19 pandemic-related shocks, including hunger instances," Chua stated. "Social initiatives, such as cash transfers, can aid in the alleviation of food and subsistence issues. To ensure timely and efficient deployment of these programs, national and local government agencies must coordinate their efforts."
The PEU also emphasizes the importance of enlisting private sector participation in infrastructure projects, given the government's limited fiscal space in the short term as a result of slower development. Foreign direct investment rules in the Philippines remain stringent, according to the research. Allowing more foreign engagement in the economy can aid in the improvement of infrastructure and the expansion of the economy.