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More than just economic jolt






echf ecf JOHNNY DAYANG echoes

FINANCIAL analysts and economic managers, for some reasons, always take the brighter side of things. In the way they assess the impact of the ongoing pandemic, they paint landscapes that look fascinating, but the truth is that there is not much to all the positive statements.

In the last week of May, for instance, the Finance department secured loans worth $4.55 billion from the Asian Development Bank, the World Bank, and government-issued dollar global bonds. Converted to local currency, that is roughly P236.6 billion.

Because the national government had promised to set aside P600 billion in its fight against COVID-19, more loans are expected to be borrowed. This will translate to further ballooning the country’s loan portfolio to about 40 percent of the Gross National Product.

The most explosive aspect of this economic downtrend is the unemployment that is sure to affect hundreds of thousands, affecting mostly overseas Filipino workers who, annually, remit close to $40 billion to the economy, which is roughly 75 percent of the national budget.

Development, however, are on the dark side. Domestic employment is set to hit eight percent of the population. But the bleakest picture comes from the projection that a million Filipinos working abroad will lose their jobs. You do not need a calculator to understand that the impact of such nerve-jarring occurrence is sure to trigger a rise in poverty.

Worse, the Labor department has spoken that thousands of micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) have already closed. This unwanted news has resulted in displacement or job loss of a huge sector that is dependent for survival on small-budgeted enterprises.

Of course, the government has assured funds to revitalize affected industries. While such promise is good for the ears, the President himself has predicted doomsday by saying that up to now he is still on the lookout for funds to address the fiscal crunch.

Adding enormous burden to an economy that is barely above water are the internal disturbances, including policy discords, that continue to rock the administration. Aside from the intramurals among the President’s men, the economic managers have yet to present a broad plan on how best to address other issues drowning the Social Welfare, Education, Tourism, and Labor departments. Other than feel-good press statements, the ship of state is sailing roughly.

What makes the country’s economic journey even more unsure is the fact that multinational companies moving out of China have not chosen the Philippines as an immediate business destination. This incident is sure to add more doubts to our effort of achieving economic recovery.