ADB sees fragile economic recovery for Philippines

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) on Wednesday, April 28, emphasized that the Philippines' economic recovery will be fragile, as uncertainties over the course of COVID-19 continue to weigh on the business environment.

The ADB sees slower recovery for the Philippines, with gross domestic product (GDP) expected to grow by at least 4.5%, much lower than the multilateral lender's initial forecast of 6.5%.

The forecast is also substantially lower than the government economic managers' outlook of 6.5% to 7.5% for 2021. (READ: Slow start: Philippine economy likely to remain in the red in Q1 2021)

"Our 4.5% growth forecast is at the lower end of economists' estimates, so there are upsides to this projection," said ADB Philippines Country Director Kelly Bird. 

The multilateral lender cited the rising coronavirus infections and reimposition of strict lockdown measures in late March in Metro Manila and neighboring provinces as factors influencing the lower forecast.

It also noted that global supply shortages of vaccines may hamper the Philippines' immunization program.

"Priority should be given to addressing the scarring effects of the pandemic on private sector employment. Programs supporting workers and firms impacted by labor market adjustments and reforms to boost productivity growth and investment will help counter the negative effects of the pandemic on employment over the medium term," Bird said.

As for Southeast Asia, the ADB sees resiliency in the region, but also noted divergent recovery paths for various countries.

Southeast Asia is expected to grow by 4.4% in 2021, with Vietnam leading the pack at 6.7%.

Singapore and Malaysia are both expected to grow by 6%, while Indonesia  and Thailand are estimated to post 4.5% and 3% growth, respectively.

In 2020, the Philippines suffered the sharpest contraction in the region at -9.6%.

The ADB also noted that inflation will be notably higher in the Philippines, as well as Myanmar, Timor-Leste, and Vietnam, amid the pandemic. –

Ralf Rivas

A sociologist by heart, a journalist by profession. Ralf is Rappler's business reporter, covering macroeconomy, government finance, companies, and agriculture.