Philippine economy contracts for first time since 1998

A policeman from the Philippine National Police (PNP) uses a thermal scanner to check the temperature of a passenger inside a bus at a checkpoint in Quezon City, the Philippines.

Manila, (Asian independent) The Philippine economy contracted 0.2 per cent in the first quarter of 2020 amid the strict COVID-19 lockdown measures, making it the first plunge since 1998, according to officials data on Thursday.

The data published by the Philippine Statistics Authority showed that the country’s GDP fell 0.2 per cent compared to the median growth forecast of 2.9 per cent between January and March 2020, reports Efe news.

It the fourth quarter of 1998, the economy contracted 3 per cent during the worst financial crisis experienced by Asia.

The strict lockdown measures has been imposed on the island of Luzon, where half of the country’s population lives – some 57 million habitants – and which contributes to 70 per cent of the national GDP.

The 0.2 per cent decline contrasts with the 5.7 percent growth in the same quarter of 2019 and from the 6.7 per cent of the previous quarter of October to December 2019.

National Economic and Development Authority Secretary Karl Chua said that the Philippines was working on a recovery plan to resume the growth levels it was at before the pandemic and added that the global economy was facing its toughest challenge since the Great Depression.

Chua added that the eruption of Taal volcano – some 80 km south of Manila – in January also had a negative impact of the economy as it had led to airports being shut down and flights cancelled.

The Philippines has confirmed 10,004 cases of COVID-19, with 658 deaths and 1,506 patients recoveries.

The number of fresh cases being reported every day is witnessing a gradual drop, which could result in easing of the strict lockdown measures from May 15 onwards and resumption of economic activities.

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