The country’s economic performance would not be affected with the destruction caused by Super Typhoon Yolanda, with the gross domestic product (GDP) projected to hit at 7 percent at the end of the year.
During the Philippine Economic Society’s (PES) 51st annual meeting on Friday, Budget Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad, University of Santo Tomas economist Alvin Ang and Finance Undersecretary Gil Beltran all said that the country’s GDP growth could still reach 7 percent this year.
For his part, Cesar Consing, Bank of the Philippine Islands president, said that some economists still believe that a GDP growth between 6.5 percent and 7.5 percent in 2014 is still very achievable, despite the effects of the super typhoon.
On Friday morning, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan issued a statement saying that the fourth-quarter GDP of the country can slow down to 4.1 percent given the “negative impact” on areas hit by Yolanda, primarily Eastern Visayas or Region 8.
Balisacan, who is also the director general of the National Economic and Development Authority, said that besides the 4.1-percent
GDP forecast for the fourth quarter, full-year GDP growth can be reduced by 0.3-percent to 0.8-percentage point, lowering the government estimates to 6.5 percent to 7 percent.
But Ang said at the sidelines of the PES meeting that fellow economists remain positive on the Philippines’ economy, citing the mere 2.2-percent contribution of Eastern Visayas to the country’s GDP as well as the rebuilding or recon-struction that will be undertaken in the region.
Abad added the situation would “work the other way around,” since there would be more “domestic consumption and spending,” given that the government would provide sufficient funds to support rehabilitation efforts in the areas affected by the super typhoon.
Ang added that the government should decide now whether it will do recon-struction of destroyed infra-structure in the areas affected by the super typhoon, or build new structures.
“Government should decide if [people]will live here or find a new place for them,” he said.
Consing, for his part, said in his speech during the PES meeting that the country’s GDP growth for 2014 won’t be affected by Yolanda.
“Finally and ironically, rebuilding efforts should provide GDP boost in 2014,” he added.
Consing also pointed out that the destruction in Eastern Visayas is manageable, considering that the region only accounts for about 2 percent of the country’s GDP.
However, the banking official said that the somehow sluggish response of the national government toward the calamity can have a negative impact on the country’s image, particularly to investors.
“The complete absence of public utilities is threatening to destroy the growing confidence that we have begun to feel,” he said.
“If there’s one thing underlying the haunting post-typhoon images in Tacloban, it is because of the shortcomings in public goods in all of their forms—power, road, bridges, airports, hospitals, military transport vehicles,” Consing added.