Philippine economic system posts its biggest-ever quarterly plunge

The economic hit from the pandemic could worsen with the government reimposing tighter quarantine controls in the capital Manila and nearby provinces for two weeks from Tuesday amid a resurgence in coronavirus cases [File: Eloisa Lopez/Reuters]

The Philippine economic system plunged by way more than anticipated within the second quarter, falling into recession for the primary time in 29 years, as financial exercise was hammered by one of many world’s longest and strictest coronavirus lockdowns.

The Southeast Asian nation’s economic system shrank by 16.5 % in April-June from the identical interval final yr – the most important droop within the authorities’s quarterly GDP information courting again to 1981, the Philippine Statistics Authority mentioned on Thursday.

Gross home product (GDP) fell by way more than the 9 % contraction forecast in a Reuters ballot and was worse than a revised droop of 0.7 % within the first quarter. Seasonally adjusted GDP fell 15.2 % within the second quarter from the primary three months of the yr.

The financial hit from the pandemic might worsen with the federal government reimposing tighter quarantine controls within the capital Manila and close by provinces for 2 weeks from Tuesday amid a resurgence in coronavirus instances.

Acting Economic Planning Secretary Karl Chua mentioned the Philippine economic system is now anticipated to contract by 5.5 % this yr, deeper than initially thought.

“The Philippine economic system crash-landed into recession with the [second quarter] GDP meltdown showcasing the harmful affect of lockdowns on the consumption-dependent economic system,” mentioned ING senior economist Nicholas Antonio Mapa.

“With record-high unemployment anticipated to climb within the coming months, we don’t anticipate a fast turnaround in consumption behaviour, all of the extra with COVID-19 instances nonetheless on the rise.”

The Philippines principal share index confirmed little response to the information.

Some companies have been ordered shut and motion restricted once more in Manila and close by provinces, which accounts for 1 / 4 of the nation’s inhabitants and most of its financial exercise.

Research agency Capital Economics mentioned the 16.5 % second-quarter shrinkage is prone to be one of many largest falls within the area. 

“A failure to include the virus, continued restrictions to motion and insufficient coverage assist imply the Philippines can be prone to expertise one of many area’s slowest recoveries,” Capital Economics’ Asia economist Alex Holmes mentioned in a analysis notice despatched to Al Jazeera.

The Philippines recorded 115,980 confirmed infections as of Wednesday, simply behind Indonesia’s 116,871 instances, which is the best in East Asia.

Record-high unemployment and a steep decline in cash despatched residence by Filipinos overseas have weighed on personal consumption, which drives roughly two-thirds of GDP. Exports suffered double-digit annual drops from March to June because the lockdown restricted manufacturing and snarled provide chains.

With inflation anticipated to stay subdued all year long, the central financial institution has room for additional coverage easing if wanted, analysts mentioned.

It has slashed the benchmark rate of interest by a complete of 1.75 proportion factors this yr to a document low of two.25 %.

UK-based lender HSBC mentioned it expects the central financial institution to make one other quarter-percentage-point reduce within the fourth quarter, taking its key price right down to 2 %.

But economists mentioned the federal government wants to enhance the central financial institution’s financial stimulus with giant doses of fiscal measures.

“Today’s GDP print factors to the necessity for an ‘all arms on deck’ strategy to boosting the economic system,” HSBC economist Noelan Arbis mentioned in a analysis notice despatched to Al Jazeera.

“The lack of a big fiscal stimulus is especially regarding for the nation, which now seems to be the area’s hardest hit economic system as a result of pandemic,” Arbis wrote, including that political gridlock is including to the nation’s financial issues.

Policymakers are deliberating a spending plan and a proposed company revenue tax reduce that President Rodrigo Duterte is hoping can assist households and companies hit exhausting by the pandemic. The quantity of assist the Senate has proposed – 140 billion pesos ($2.9bn) – is way lower than what governments elsewhere in Southeast Asia are offering.

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