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Philippines has resources to endure virus, Finance chief says

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Carlos G. Dominguez III
Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III

The Philippines has resources for a “protracted” fight against the pandemic and its effects on the economy, which contracted by a record in the second quarter, according to Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III.

The nation’s “unique fiscal and macroeconomic strengths” going into this year provide it with a “solid footing” to meet the pandemic’s economic challenge, Mr. Dominguez said in a statement.

“We have the resources necessary to endure this challenge, but we must also conserve our resources for succeeding rounds of this fight,” Mr. Dominguez said. “Government’s ability to sustain the fight depends on our fiscal stamina.”

The Philippines plunged into a recession after shrinking 16.5% in the second quarter as consumer spending and jobs got hammered amid the lockdowns in Manila and other urban centers to contain the virus. Rising infections pushed government on Tuesday to reinstate restrictions in the capital region and four neighboring provinces for two weeks.

The Philippines’ near-term growth outlook has continued to deteriorate amid the pandemic and lockdowns, Fitch Ratings associate director Sagarika Chandra said in a statement. “Downside risks are materializing” given the country’s difficulty of containing the virus.

Despite the latest lockdown, economic recovery in the third quarter will proceed at a “steady, yet moderate” pace after the gradual reopening of businesses since May, Mr. Dominguez said. The restriction is long-term positive as it gives time for government to boost health-care resources and contain the spread of the virus, he said.

“Benign” inflation, a strong peso and a high-investment grade credit rating, which allowed government to borrow money at relatively lower cost, will help it “mount a strong recovery soon enough,” Mr. Dominguez said. — Bloomberg





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