Government economic managers expect the country to downshift to the most lenient alert level status beginning next year, allowing businesses to operate at full capacity.

Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III said on Wednesday, Nov. 17, that the sustained drop in the number of COVID-19 cases is fueling the economic team’s optimism that the country could safely transition to Alert Level 1 by the start of 2022.

“With current trends, we expect to achieve alert level 1 by the onset of the New Year. We are all looking forward to the new and better normal,” Dominguez said in a speech read for him by Finance Undersecretary Gil G. Beltran at the 47th Philippine Business Conference and Expo.

OCTA, an independent research group, said the COVID-19 situation in the Philippines continued to improve, with an infection reproduction number of 0.42 and a positivity rate of four percent.

Reproduction number refers to the average number of secondary infections by each infected individual, while the positivity rate refers to the number of people who test positive given the testing.

“Based on these trends, new cases could decrease to 500 before the year’s end,” OCTA said.

With the arrival of an adequate supply of vaccines and the aggressive COVID-19 inoculation program, Dominguez said more people can now return to work, businesses to continue operating and infections to drop significantly.

Under Alert Level I, all businesses are allowed to operate at full-site capacity, subject to minimum public health standards.

“We are all looking forward to the new and better normal. Our businesses should prepare to thrive under the terms of this new economy. They must adapt more quickly to the new market realities created by digital technology,” Dominguez said.

“We contained the Delta variant and sustained our economic expansion even as stringent quarantines were in place for certain periods. Our strategy was correct. The results are clear,” he added.

The economic managers led by Dominguez had said that the economy’s third-quarter growth of 7.1 percent year-on-year and year-to-date expansion of 4.9 percent means that it is “on track to reach the high-end of our 4 to 5 percent growth target for 2021.”

“As the main drivers of wealth and job creation in our economy, I trust our private enterprises are adjusting quickly enough to the rapid changes in our economy. We cannot be slow-footed in keeping up with the challenge,” Dominguez said.

Dominguez said the country should take full advantage of its demographic sweet spot, in which its workforce is made up mostly of young and talented people ready to swiftly adjust to the transformations taking place in the new economy.

Source: Manila Bulletin (