Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon M. Lopez yesterday said the domestic economy is expected to recover to 6 percent GDP growth this year, which he premised on the easing of restrictions under a modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) status for the National Capital Region and neighboring provinces.
Lopez explained said that once Metro Manila and nearby provinces are placed under MGCQ the Philippine GDP could go back to 6 percent level because the NCR and nearby provinces, which are still under GCQ, account for 50 percent of the country’s overall economy. There are around 10 areas in the country still under GCQ. The MGCQ status means relaxed movement of people and reopening of almost all sectors of the economy.
“We all hope for a recovery in 2021 and we saw this quarter-on-quarter growth and especially this full year 2021, we will be back to 6 percent,” said Lopez over a radio interview. He said the government is targeting 6-7 percent GDP this year just on track with the growth pace before the pandemic where the Philippines is the second fastest growing economy in the region.
Once under MGCQ, he said, movement restrictions will be further eased that will bring the domestic economy “close to where we were before.” He explained that the only reason the age restriction was reverted back to 15 from 10 by President Duterte was to give at least two weeks to observe if the new COVID-19 variant is going to increase the number of cases in the country.
So far, he said, the number of COVID cases in the country has gone down to less than 2,000 to even 1,200 cases a day only. With that, Lopez expects that Metro Manila and the rest of the GCQ areas will also graduate to the MGCQ level.
On criticisms that the Duterte administration has no economic recovery plans, the DTI chief slammed critics saying the government has continuing programs and plans if only these people will read these overwhelming programs of the government before criticizing.
“Basahin muna nila (Read first),” said Lopez stressing the government has plans including the Build Build Build, the tax reform under CREATE Bill which he said is going to be passed soon at the bicameral level, and continuing efforts to remove foreign equity restrictions in retail, public services and utilities, among others.
Government agencies such as DTI and Department of Science and Technology have also various plans and programs. “Basahin po nila, wag muna mag comment bago Mabasa, maghanap sila ng program anong pwede para sa kanila dun (Read these programs first before they comment, look for program that will fit you),” said Lopez.
He said that economic reforms are continuing especially now that the vaccines are bring brought in and the cases are well under control. “It is wrong to say the government has no plan, there is a plan. It is easy to say, it is a general statement. If only critics will read and visit the various websites of government agencies, they will be overwhelmed by these plans which were implemented already before the pandemic that is why we became the second fastest growing economy in the region. Have faith,” he said.
Lopez even pointed out that people should be grateful as the Duterte government was able to reduce the poverty level to 16 percent in 2019 ahead of the 2022 target and a 6 percent GDP growth.
“Really, these are plans it is just that the pandemic is a difficult enemy and all the rest of the world were also affected. So, it is wrong to say there is no plan, magbasa po sila (Critics should read),” Lopez concluded.