Palace: PH has ‘large’ financial buffer to cushion economic impact of COVID-19 outbreak

Published March 5, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Genalyn Kabiling

The country has a “large” financial buffer to stimulate the economy in case of a fallout from the coronavirus outbreak, a Palace official assured the public Thursday.

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles (Photo from Karlo Nograles / Facebook page / MANILA BULLETIN)
Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles (Photo from Karlo Nograles / Facebook page / MANILA BULLETIN)

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said the country remains in a “very good final and monetary position” based on a Department of Finance (DOF) report in a recent Cabinet meeting.

The finance department also highlighted the county’s manageable debt-to-gross domestic product (GDP) rate as well as good credit standing in case there will be a need to borrow funds, according to Nograles.

“The country had a large buffer to stimulate the economy in case of a slowdown, and the target GDP growth of up to 6.5 percent for 2020 remains unchanged,” Nograles said.

“Of course, it is imperative that the implementing agencies such as the DPWH (Department of Public Works and Highways) and DOTr (Department of Transportation) continue their spending program to further stimulate the economy,” he said.

Also, Nograles said the government is looking into contingency measures to cushion the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on the local economy. He noted that all options are being explored to strengthen trade, tourism, and employment.

“So far an affected industry has been tourism, so plans are being implemented to help the industry cope with the challenges brought about by the COVID-19 outbreak,” he said.

At present, Nograles said the government is encouraged by the country’s “steady” employment rate as well as “resilient” manufacturing sector.

He said the country’s manufacturing purchasing managers’ index (PMI) remained above 50, which indicated growth.

The country’s employment rate stayed at 94.7 percent, the same level as last year despite the increase in labor force. The underemployment rate in January dropped to 14.8 percent compared to 15.4 percent a year ago, Nograles said.

Recently, Socio-Economic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia said the coronavirus spread may cut the country’s growth by one percentage point given its impact on trade and tourism.

The government is targeting 6.5 to 7.5 percent GDP growth this year.

 
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