By BERNIE CAHILES-MAGKILAT
The Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry Inc. (FFCCCII) has lowered its growth forecast for the domestic economy to 6.5 percent as the group becomes more realistic of growth prospects amid the dampening impact of the 2019 novel coronavirus acute respiratory disease (2019 nCoV ARD).
Henry Lim Bon Liong, president of the FFCCCIII, said in a statement he read before a group of journalists that FFCCCII now forecasts the lower end of its earlier 6.5-7.5 percent Philippine GDP growth target for 2020.
“Before this nCoV crisis, at the start of January 2020, our Philippine economic growth forecast was between 6.5 percent to 7.5 percent,” he said.
As the virus continued to spread, he said “Let us be optimistic by hoping for the best, but let us also be realistic by planning for the worst case scenario.” Deaths of this global epidemic has already surpassed the 700 plus deaths caused by SARS. In the Philippines, the number of persons under investigation for possible 2019 nCoV ARD infection along with confirmed cases, has risen to 264 according to the Department of Health.
Nonetheless, Lim said FFCCCII remained hopeful about resilient, strong Philippine economic growth of 6.5 percent in 2020 despite new global challenges caused by this health problem which might dampen worldwide tourism, trade and economic activities.
He explained that FFCCCII is cautiously optimistic because it is still at the start of the new year “There are still hopes of the whole world coming together cooperating with our major trading partner China in winning this war against nCoV. We also believe that the economic and demographic fundamentals of the Philippines are very strong, also we have faith in the government’s enlightened macro-economic and fiscal reforms which support resilient and inclusive economic growth.”
The group also believes that this epidemic in China and the world will end soon and the economy shall recover fast just like what happened to the SARS problem in 2003.
According to Lim, many entrepreneurs of the Filipino Chinese community have faith in the vast potentials and resilience of the Philippine economy.
“The FFCCCII urges all sectors to work harder and smarter, be resilient and creative, adapt and innovate, in order to sustain the positive momentum of Philippine development regardless of various challenges,” he said.
The group also urged government and all sectors to invest and upgrade Philippine tourism facilities during this slowdown in arrivals and lull.
FFCCCII urges all sectors, most especially government, to assist overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), local Filipino farmers and MSME entrepreneurs and other vulnerable sectors affected by the coronavirus scare.