DOF chief sees ‘fairly good’ GDP growth in second quarter

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MANILA – The improvement in the employment situation should make the country’s economic growth in the second quarter “quite good”, said Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III.

In an interview with Bloomberg TV on Wednesday, Dominguez declined to give specific numbers, saying he was “not big on predictions,” but cited falling unemployment and underemployment last May.

“The fact that we have created around two and a half million new jobs in the past year seems to be a good sign for us,” he said.

Data from the Statistics Authority of the Philippines (PSA) shows that the labor force participation rate in May improved to 64.6% from 63.2% in the previous month.

The employment rate rose to 92.3% in May from 91.3% last April, while the underemployment rate fell to 12.3% from 17.2%.

The unemployment rate fell to 7.7% from 8.7%.

The authorities attributed the increase in the employment rate to the continued reopening of the economy which allows more workers to find jobs.

The second quarter gross domestic product (GDP) report is expected to be released on August 10.

In the first three months of 2021, the country’s GDP contracted 4.2%, better than the -8.3% in the previous quarter.

The growth target for business leaders for this year is between 6 and 7%, while it is 7 to 9% for next year and 6 to 7% for 2023-2024.

While the pandemic is expected to continue, Dominguez said it was important to continue to remain “fiscally responsible”.

“We want to make sure we have enough resources to deal with any issues in the future, such as pandemic outbreaks. We also want to make sure that we have enough money to protect our citizens and that it provides them with enough vaccines, ”he said.

Dominguez said the government’s $ 3 trillion borrowing program for this year, the same as last year, would remain mostly domestic at around 75 percent.

The balance would be taken abroad “depending on the market situation,” he said.

“We remain open to funding from national or international sources. And essentially, it will be the same amount, ”he added.

To date, the government has issued approximately PHP 150 billion ($ 3 billion) of 10.5-year and 25-year double-tranche bonds denominated in US dollars; € 2.1 billion in global multi-branch bonds at 4, 12 and 20 years; and JPY55 billion three-year fixed rate and fixed rate samurai bonds denominated in yen.

Dominguez said the loans were helping fund government programs this year, including the purchase of 2019 coronavirus disease (Covid-19) vaccines.

He said nearly 30 million doses of the vaccine had arrived in the country as of July 21, while around 70 million doses are expected in the third quarter and around 55 million doses in the last quarter.

“It is certainly enough to immunize 100 percent of our adult population,” he said, adding that the vaccination program is the government’s main method of fighting the virus. (ANP)

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