The Philippines’ gross domestic product (GDP) growth outlook for this year has been revised downward to 5.3 percent by Moody’s Analytics, blaming decentralized health advice and a sluggish vaccination rollout as reasons delaying the country’s economic recovery.
“The Philippine economy is the regional laggard, forecast to grow just 5.3 percent in 2021 from the 9.3 percent fall in 2020,” it said in a report released on Monday.
The most current projection shows a reduction from the prior 6.3 percent forecast. Although the revised estimate is lower than the government’s revised growth outlook of 6-7 percent, it represents a significant improvement over the Philippines’ 9.6 percent contraction in 2020.
According to Moody’s Analytics, the Philippines is struggling to contain new coronavirus illness 2019 infections.
“The latest spike occurred in early April. New cases numbering 15,298 were reported on 2 April. Daily new infections have eased since and sat at 4,683 as of Wednesday, according to Johns Hopkins University.”
In the early months, the Philippines’ inability to control local infections was aggravated by the country’s centralized healthcare system. It further said that city and town leaders, rather than the central government, are in charge of the health system.
“As a result, there were not consistent policies and rigorousness around contact tracing, funding, and quarantine measures for those infected and their close contacts,” it added.
Moody’s Analytics added that the Philippines lags behind most of its *neighbors in terms of local immunization, with only 2.7 percent of the 108 million people in the country having gotten one dose of vaccine and just 0.8 percent being fully vaccinated.
“This is problematic, because it means the Philippines remains vulnerable to continued local infection spikes, inhibiting the economic recovery as it is assumed the government will reintroduce strict lockdowns to contain further infections,” it added.
Moody’s Analytics further said vaccine hesitation exists in the Philippines as a result of misinformation and long-term scars from the 2016 dengue fever vaccine, which put children’s health in jeopardy.
With these, the Philippines is not likely to return to pre-pandemic output levels until the end of 2022.
BY MEYNARD DELA CERNA