PH economy falls in First Quarter

May 8 ------ The Philippine economy painted a grimmer picture in the first three months as its gross domestic product (GDP) registered an unexpected decline. The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) said the economy, as measured by the country’s GDP, decreased by 0.2 percent in January to March this year. The end-March GDP figure was reversal of the 5.7 percent growth in the same period last year and way below the government’s original target of 6.5 percent to 7.5 percent. Aside from lockdowns, the country already experienced a decline in exports following temporary factory closures in China–the Philippines’ major trading partner–amid the coronavirus pandemic. Travel restrictions were also put in place in the first-quarter that resulted in decreased tourist arrivals. The eruption of the Taal volcano, likewise, affected growth. Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III said last Wednesday that the economic performance this year could be probably worse than the initially expected of flat growth of 0.8 percent contraction. Dominguez said the extended lockdown is taking a heavy toll on economic activity in Metro Manila and nearby provinces, which accounted for the country’s over 60 percent of GDP. Malacañang implemented a community quarantine for Metro Manila starting March 15, and an enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) for mainland Luzon beginning March 17 until April 12. However, the ECQ has been extended from April 12 to May 15, 2020 amid sustained rise in COVID-19 infections and weak testing capacity. Source: