THE Philippines will not need to wait for 10 years to return to its pre-pandemic economic status as this can be shortened into three to four years, an economist on Thursday, Sept. 30, 2021 said.
But to achieve the shortened recovery timeline, the private sector will have to accelerate the way they do business, said economist Ronilo Balbieran, vice president of think-tank Research, Education and Institutional Development Foundation.
“Because of the pandemic our income level per person per year was pushed back to four years. In the current tempo of our economic activities, which is very slow, it is not hard to imagine that we will go back to the 2019 level in 10 years. But it doesn’t mean that we should be contented to wait for 10 years,” said Balbieran, during the one-day virtual Mandaue Business Summit 2021 organized by the Mandaue Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Balbieran believes the fast recovery of the country’s economy will greatly depends on the private sector as it makes up 85 percent of the economy, including investors.
“It is our decision. Do we accept this slow-paced movement or do we now agree that we will put our acts together? That we will take advantage of this e-commerce, infrastructure and local government revenues and shorten this 10-year projection,” he stressed.
Balbieran is confident that it is “very possible to shorten it to three to four years.”
“I think if you are prepared for the surge for the next two years, then we can shorten the 10 years. That’s my challenge (to the business sector),” he said.
“We have the resources because the Filipinos are the brightest, most resilient, most creative and craziest business entrepreneurs in the world. We will figure out a way to rev up our economy and shorten this,” Balbieran stressed. “It is very possible and the raw materials are there.”
The economist said the Philippines has the fundamentals like money, people and spirit to bounce back stronger and even better (faster and more inclusive across regions), with transformed economic structures.
He added that the country and the Filipinos are equipped for economic global leadership, especially in e-commerce due to large, young and still growing population that are heavy-users of the internet.
Acceleration of the digital transformation journey of agribusiness, transport and logistics, e-commerce, education and health will also spur economic activities and opportunities.
Balbieran also added that government will lead on spending, especially on infrastructure and facilities for transport, logistics and internet. The upcoming national elections in 2022 is also expected to accelerate spending activities.
Earlier, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua said the estimated long-run total cost of the Covid-19 pandemic and quarantines for present and future generations of Filipinos is estimated at P41.4 trillion.
“Over the past six months, Neda, with assistance from our development partners and attached agencies, has been estimating the total cost of Covid-19 and the quarantines. The present and future costs are estimated at P41.4 trillion in net present value terms. Broken down, in 2020, we lost P4.3 trillion; in the next 10 to 40 years, we estimate that we will lose up to P37 trillion,” Chua said, in a statement.
Moreover, the Neda chief said: “We expect the economy to converge to the pre-pandemic growth path by the 10th year. While we will recover to the pre-pandemic level by the end of 2022 or early 2023, it will take several more years before we converge to our original growth path.” (KOC)