Silver lining

Well, well what do you know? While the tsismosas and tsismosos are busy with their favorite pastime upstaging each other whether “Maid in Malacañang” and “Katips” are telling the truth about our history, the Philippines’ gross domestic product (GDP) posted an 8.3 percent growth in the first three months this year.

Wait. This looks like a grand celebration indicating our economy is moving forward but as a community journalist not schooled in economics, I must confess here that I asked my son, an Economic major grad from UA&P to tell me the reason why I should be ebullient and celebratory over a growing GDP.

GDP is the value of all the final goods and services the country, like the Philippines, produced in a specified period.

Earlier, Moody’s Analytics expects a GDP growth of about 7.2 percent for the country after it initially slashed the projection to 6.1 percent from the original target of 6.4 percent. This was due to the “stronger-than-expected” growth in the first quarter.

This follows after seeing domestic consumption accelerate faster than expected with the easing of social distancing rules.

The 7.2 percent GDP growth projection is well within the 7-8 percent target set by the Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC).

Like other economies worldwide, the economic performance of the Philippines started to shrink following the unstoppable spread of coronavirus in the 2nd quarter of 2020. The Duterte government grappled with other countries to acquire scarce personal protective equipment and vaccines which early on were available only from China. The US of A and UK ordered strict no-export directives of vaccines and PPEs as they ensured that their local needs are met first. As the Philippines progressed with its massive immunization drive, it was able to curb the number of daily covid infections.

Last year, with the decline of Covid cases, the engines of industries started to rev slowly. Even with the emergence of Omicron labeled as a highly contagious variant, cases of Covid infections were largely mild and were successfully treated at home. The government slowly began to allow international travelers to return which boosted services employment. Stores and restaurants in erstwhile empty malls reopened as more people resumed new normal activities. People who were laid off from jobs amid strict lockdowns were re-employed. Further easing of health protocols drove domestic consumption and accelerated economic recovery. The Philippines, Moody’s Analytics says, came out as the second fastest economy in the Asia-Pacific region after India.

What will further drive the expansion of the Philippines GDP is the policy statement of President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. that the government” will continue with the Build, Build, Build” program of President Rodrigo Duterte. Meaning there will be no let-up in infrastructure spending. This together with continuous return in private consumption with help buoy second-quarter growth.

Moody’s Analytics predicted that the Philippines economy will likely hit 8.8 percent year-on-year growth for the June quarter which puts the country on track to comfortably meet its 7-9 percent in 2022.

What feels good and assuring is that our GDP is moving in a higher direction. How will inflation and high debt impact this is another story, although the Marcos administration is perceptively doing its best to temper that by mentioning goals to accelerate agricultural production, manufacturing, and tourism, among others.

We will get to learn the meaning and significance of inflation in the next two quarters when, with the same amount of money today, there be more food on the table that we can buy later.

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