MANILA, Nov 9 (AFP) — The Philippine economy grew more than expected in the third quarter, the government said Tuesday, as a rebound in consumer spending overcame pandemic lockdowns and other restrictions to rein in the fast-spreading Covid delta variant.
Gross domestic product expanded 7.1 percent, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority, better than the 4.9 percent predicted in a Bloomberg survey and following a blockbuster 12 percent rate in the previous three months.
The second-quarter reading was the best performance in more than three decades and came as the country emerged from a deep recession that saw five quarters of contraction caused by the virus.
Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Chua said the third quarter growth validated the government’s approach to fighting Covid with strict containment measures.
“Our strategy was correct. The results are clear,” Chua said in a virtual briefing.
“This careful balancing between Covid-19 and non Covid-19 needs led to the continued expansion of most sectors.”
With GDP growth reaching 4.9 percent in the first nine months, Chua said the Philippines is likely to attain the higher end of the government’s 4-5 percent target this year.
“The recovery is accelerating and it is very likely that we will hit or even exceed the high end of our growth target for 2021,” he added.
Chua has previously said it will take the Philippines more than a decade to return to its pre-pandemic growth path.
He said the “long-run total cost of Covid and quarantine” will reach 41 trillion pesos ($810 billion), which would be felt over the next 10 to 40 years.
More than 2.8 million people have been infected in the Philippines, with more than 44,000 deaths. But cases have fallen sharply in recent weeks — to levels last seen in February — allowing the government to reopen parts of the economy.