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ADB says PH war chest vs COVID not enough

Funding gets boost from $10.6B in foreign loans, grants
By: - Reporter / @bendeveraINQ
/ 04:17 AM December 14, 2020

The Philippines’ war chest against COVID-19 may not be enough to bankroll the huge financial support needed to recover from the pandemic-induced recession as well as resume jobs and livelihood, according to an Asian Development Bank (ADB) report.

Compared to neighboring Asian countries like Malaysia, South Korea and Thailand, “the packages for the Philippines and Indonesia are substantially smaller as a percent of GDP (gross domestic product) and in per capita terms,” read the ADB economics working paper titled “An Analysis of the Worldwide Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic: What and How Much?”

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Citing data compiled by the ADB’s COVID-19 policy database as of June 15, the Philippines’ total package was back then equivalent to 5.5 percent of GDP. When divided among the population, the package was equivalent to $188 per person.

Response package

Back in June, the total response package in Indonesia was 5.8 percent of GDP and $299 per capita; in Malaysia, 20.4 percent of GDP and $2,296 per capita; in South Korea, 12.3 percent of GDP and $3,730 per capita, and in Thailand, 16 percent of GDP and $1,211 per capita.

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“If we look at the ADB’s developing members, we see large countries like India or Indonesia with seemingly small packages per capita, $259 and $229, respectively, but larger than what they should be given the control variables we have. The package of the Philippines, on the other hand, is small in absolute value ($188) and several of the models indicate that the package ought to be larger. A package of about $300 per capita would imply a total package 59-percent larger, about $32 billion as opposed to $20 billion,” economists Jesus Felipe, Scott Fullwiler, Donna Faye Bajaro, Al-Habbyel Yusoph, Simon Alec Askin and Martin Alexander Cruz said.

The ADB’s latest updated COVID-19 policy database as of Nov. 30 showed the Philippines’ response package to fight COVID-19 at a bigger $21.65 billion, up from $21.5 billion in September, $21.1 billion in July, $20.1 billion in June, $19.8 billion in May and $16.5 billion in April.

$202.95 per Filipino

The updated package was equivalent to 5.88 percent of 2019 GDP. Once divided among the population, the package per capita amounted to $202.95 per Filipino.

Despite the small fiscal response, the Philippines was among the ADB’s member-countries that enjoyed the biggest foreign assistance in the form of loans and grants from multilateral lenders as well as bilateral development partners.

Back in June, the Philippines’ $3.6 billion in international assistance was only exceeded by India’s $4 billion.

The latest Department of Finance data showed that the Philippines secured a total of $10.6 billion in external financing for its COVID-19 response as of Nov. 23. INQ

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TAGS: Asian Development Bank (ADB), Business, COVID-19
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