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Malacañang Palace is optimistic that the Philippine economy would expand at a faster pace and return to 6 percent growth trajectory in 2021 despite the crisis brought about by the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic in the country this year.

In a virtual presser aired on state-run PTV-4 on Thursday, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque acknowledged that the Philippines suffered its first economic recession since 1998 due to the Covid-19 health crisis.

Roque, nevertheless, remained confident that the country would experience a faster economic recovery.

“The economic troubles will continue pero inaasahan po natin dito sa Pilipinas ang masiglang pagbalik sa normal (but we expect that everything will be back to normal in the Philippines). At inaasahan po natin na matapos itong taon na ito ay babalik po tayo sa six percent growth na naman (We expect that after this year, we will enjoy six percent growth anew),” he said.

In May, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas admitted that the Philippines suffered its first economic contraction in 22 years due to unexpected shocks, including the Covid-19 outbreak.

The Philippine Statistics Authority has reported that the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) declined 0.2 percent from January to March this year.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF), in its World Economic Outlook June 2020 Update released on Wednesday, has further downgraded its economic outlook for the Philippines.

The IMF projected a 3.6-percent contraction in the country’s GDP this year, a sharp reversal from its baseline 6.3-percent growth forecast given last year and the 0.6 percent growth outlook in April.

It, nevertheless, expected that the Philippine economy will revert to 6.8 percent growth in 2021.

Roque said the reopening of more industries in the country following the relaxation of quarantine restrictions would help reboot the economy.

“Alam naman po natin na ang karanasan ay hindi lang po dito sa Pilipinas (The experience of [economic shutdown is also happening in other countries], not only in the Philippines),” he said. “Nagbu-bukas naman na po tayo ng ekonomiya dito (We are nevertheless reopening our economy).”

From 2012 to 2016, the Philippines’ average economic growth is 6.6 percent. The country posted 6 percent growth in 2019.

President Rodrigo Duterte first placed the entire Luzon under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), the most stringent community quarantine, in March this year to stop the Covid-19 pandemic in the country.

Duterte eventually eased the quarantine restrictions and placed only Cebu City under ECQ until June 30.

Roque noted that the Philippines has so far borrowed around USD5.758 billion from multilateral foreign lenders to boost the country’s war chest against Covid-19.

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