“How did he come to this?
After 18 months of a largely ineffective government policy of quarantines and lockdowns, two issues are at the forefront in the minds of Filipinos. The first question is: is the nation’s return to near-normality within reach? The second question is: will 2022 probably be the year of the return to near-normality? Predicting the anti-coronavirus trajectory of the Philippine economy – rates of recovery in production activity, job re-creation, income growth and increased sales – has been the domain of economists, economic policymakers. and business leaders. The message was mixed, creating confusion and frustration among Filipinos. Being realistic and saying what it is is not part of the job description of economic decision-makers, whether the policy under consideration is monetary, fiscal or commercial in nature. The aspirations and fears of the population must be properly taken into account, and economic decision-makers must therefore always be optimistic and enthusiastic. On the other hand, economic analysts, especially those with no business affiliation, have been true to their ideals, calling things what they saw them. When it comes to the business world, the diversity of attitudes has been the situation there, with some sectors presenting a grim picture of the short-term outlook for the Philippine economy and others maintaining a critical posture of moderation in order not to. not unduly offend the government.
As if the Filipino people weren’t confused enough, the country’s health authorities have come up with their own assessment of the economy’s near-term prospects. When appearing before the Senate to defend the 2022 General Appropriations Act (GAA) proposal for his department, the health secretary said he believed the Philippine economy would return to near normalcy only towards the end. 2022 and possibly 2023. With the statement of Secretary Francisco Duque III, the DOH (Department of Health) is now also dealing with economic forecasting. Dr Duque’s testimony came as a great shock to both the Duterte administration’s economic management team and the business community. Obviously, Dr Duque did not clear up his statement with his Cabinet colleagues, who signed off on the air that the nation’s economic deliverance is imminent. Economic officials said the economy would likely end 2021 with GDP (gross domestic product) growth close to their target range of 6-7% and that 2022 would be an equally good year for GDP. Now, in a truly heartbreaking way, the Health Secretary was saying they are wrong and that the nation’s economic deliverance will not happen in 2021 and maybe not even in 2022. Obviously, Dr Duque doesn’t was out of step with the Secretary of Finance, Secretary of Socio-Economic Planning and the Governor of PASB (Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas). The business community was stunned by Dr. Duque’s testimony. Since the start of this year, they have been the source of banking economists’ forecasts of modest GDP growth – the average forecast was in the range of 4.5 to 5.5% – in 2021, with a fairly strong recovery in 2022. Filipino businessmen are now wondering: who do we believe now, the economic directors and private sector economists, or the Secretary of Health, who is the No. 1 health official of the government ? They are now wondering if the economy is really almost out of the woods or if it still has some way to go before it returns to near normality. Those who firmly believe that the Philippine economy is growing steadily, will end 2021 with reasonable growth and do even better next year should ask Dr Duque to explain how he arrived at his economic forecast.
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