Economic recovery is “not a horse race” among Asian peers, the Department of Finance (DOF) clarified after a number of analysts anticipated that the Philippines may likely become the last country in region to regain its pre-pandemic growth level.

“I don’t watch the projections for the others,” Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III responded when reporters sought his comment on a number of analysts branding the Philippines as a regional laggard, or the worst performing economy in the region.

From being one of the fastest-growing economies in the region before COVID-19 struck, the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) shrank by 9.5 percent in 2020, its worst economic performance since records started after World War II.

Moody’s Analytics predicted that the Philippines would regain its pre-pandemic economic growth level only by the fourth quarter of 2022, while the DBS Bank of Singapore said the country was still a laggard despite the double-digit expansion in the second quarter.

“Frankly, I don’t know the conditions there [other countries] and it’s not a horse race. I don’t know why they have to make it a horse race. I don’t think it is,” Dominguez said. “I just look at our own economy.”

As the government’s chief economic manager shrugs off the pessimistic outlook for the Philippines, Dominguez assured that they will not lose sight of their goal.

“The immediate and the mid-term goal is to remove the virus as a determinant of our growth. That is the immediate goal and the only way to make sure that is we vaccinate everybody from 12 years old up,” he said.

Meanwhile, Finance Undersecretary Gil S. Beltran said the economy should grow by about 5.0 percent to 5.5 percent in the second half to hit the government’s 2021 downgraded target of 4.0 percent and 6.0 percent.

In the first semester of the year, the economy grew by 3.7 percent.

The Philippine Statistics Authority is set to release the third-quarter GDP performance on Nov. 9.

Asked about his outlook for the July to September growth performance, Beltran, who is also the DOF’s chief economist, said “I am very optimistic that we will do well.”

Last week, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick T. Chua said that 77 percent of the economy was still under heightened quarantines despite eased movement restrictions.

Source: Manila Bulletin (