DBCC to review economic growth targets in May

Residents line up to receive cash aid at a barangay hall in Quezon City, April 14. — PHILIPPINE STAR/ MICHAEL VARCAS

THE Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC) is set to meet next month to revisit economic growth targets, as economic managers assess the impact of the stricter lockdown as well as official gross domestic product (GDP) data for the first quarter.

“The DBCC will be convened again soon, hopefully by next month, to revisit its medium-term macroeconomic targets and fiscal program in light of recent domestic and external developments, such as the recently imposed ECQ (enhanced community quarantine) [in Metro Manila and nearby provinces],” Budget Secretary Wendel E. Avisado said at the Sulong Pilipinas forum on Monday.

Socioeconomic and Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick T. Chua said they are sticking to the 6.5-7.5% GDP target for now, while the economic team awaits the release of first-quarter GDP data on May 10.

“First of all, we have a target of 6.5-7.5% this year. And we are still early in the year to make changes, although this ECQ and modified ECQ (MECQ) period may affect our growth. On the other hand, we still have eight full months of the year to recover, and there are  ways to recover and to be on track with our growth,” he added.

To help the economy recover faster, Mr. Chua said the government should choose localized lockdowns over broader quarantine measures; accelerate delivery of recovery measures already in place; and continue the roll out of the mass vaccination program.

Mr. Chua earlier estimated foregone wages of workers due to the five-week stricter lockdown, which ends April 30, may reach P83.3 billion.

As many economic activities were disrupted during the two-week ECQ, he estimated 0.8 percentage point may be shaved off the full-year GDP.

Think tank Oxford Economics said in a report on Monday that downside risks persisted for the Philippines’ first-quarter GDP, citing weak manufacturing volumes, virus resurgence and tightened quarantine restrictions.

The Health department reported 8,929 new coronavirus infections on Monday, bringing the active cases to 74,623. — Beatrice M. Laforga