The Philippine economy may be able to return to pre-pandemic levels after 10 years, according to the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA).
NEDA also said the next two generations of Filipinos will bear the brunt of paying for the cost of the pandemic.
Various levels of restrictions including hard lockdowns intended to slow down the spread of the virus had gravely fractured the country’s economy, with millions out of work and many poor families going hungry.
“Our long run total cost of COVID and the quarantine both to the present and future society — meaning our children and our grandchildren — will reach P41.4 trillion ($810 billion)”, said Economic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua.
This is more than double the Philippines’ gross domestic product (GDP) last year, which the World Bank estimates at $361.5 billion.
The losses would be felt over the next 10 to 40 years, Chua added.
Consumption, investment and tax revenues will have a hard time recovering as social distancing rules prevent key sectors, such as tourism and restaurants, from fully reopening.
Lower productivity caused by death, illness or lack of schooling during the pandemic “is likely to be permanent”, he added.
The economy is expected to expand by 4% to 5% this year, Chua said, compared to a record contraction of 9.6% in 2020.
The country’s economy grew by an average of 6.4% over a 10-year period before COVID-19 hit.
Chua explained that nearly 70% of the economy, including 23.3 million workers, remained under “heightened quarantine” restrictions.
He warned that lockdowns that aggravated hunger are not the answer to the pandemic.
Just over a quarter of the adult population has been fully vaccinated amid a delayed and slow vaccination rollout.