* My article in BusinessWorld, November 22, 2021.
The year 2021 will end in six weeks and there are many business conferences and economic forums that pin their hopes for 2022. Among those events that I attended and plan to attend are the following:
1.) The Philippine Business Conference and Expo (PBC&E), Nov. 17-18. This is the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s (PCCI) annual big event and this year’s theme was “Innovation PH: Economic Recovery for All.” The Chairman of the 47th PBC&E was Jeffrey Ng who is also the President of our UP School of Economics Alumni Association (UPSEAA).
2.) The Stratbase-ADRi Pilipinas Conference, Nov. 22-26. The theme of this five half-days conference is “Sustaining Economic Recovery Post-Pandemic Towards 2022 and Beyond.” Sessions on business and foreign policies including the continuing territorial theft by our huge bully neighbor across the sea.
3.) The BusinessWorld Virtual Economic Forum (BWVEF), Nov. 24-25. The theme is “Recovery Roadmap PH: 2022 and Beyond.” Opening sessions —about global economic growth prospects, pandemic shifts, and business resilience and sustainability — already set the recovery roadmap. See more details at https://www.bworldonline.com/bwvef2021/.
4.) The CDC Ph COVID Summit on Nov. 25, Vivere Hotel, Alabang. The Concerned Doctors and Citizens of the Philippines’ (CDC Ph) big event featuring speakers who are all doctors from the Philippines and the US who are known for successful early treatment, outpatient and home-based treatment of COVID, up to critical care inpatient cases.
ECONOMIC PROSPECTS OF THE PHILIPPINES
The country’s economic outlook is not good. With deep GDP (gross domestic product) contraction of -9.6% in 2020, we should grow at least 10.5% this year to be at 2019’s GDP size or level. This is not possible as GDP growth in the first three quarters of the year was only 5.1% so we will reach the 2019 level around the second or third quarter of 2022.
Consumer prices are unkind for the Philippines this year. The inflation rate from January-October is high at 4.5%, while our ASEAN neighbors Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, and Singapore had inflation rates of only 1% to 1.8%, while Malaysia’s was at 2.3%.
And when it comes to public debt, the Philippines seems to have the biggest jump in government debt/GDP ratio in Asia — from only 37% in 2019, this is projected to rise to 59% end-2021 (see table).
The Duterte administration is doing something very wasteful that succeeds only in significantly raising consumer prices and public debt but not domestic production of goods and services.
ECONOMIC PROSPECTS GLOBAL
The global outlook is not good either. High inflation has creeped into the world’s major economies like the US, the UK, Germany, France, and South Korea. Plus, they have high or rising debt/GDP levels, which will require higher taxes to pay those debts and business taxes are often passed on to the consumers.
Then there are global supply constraints due to resignations or firing of workers due to mandatory vaccinations in many countries. And steep energy price hikes as northern hemisphere countries are facing early cold blasts and a severe winter and they have downscaled or retired many of their reliable coal and nuke power plants.
COVID SUMMIT SPEAKERS
The CDC Ph event speakers are all doctors known nationally and internationally: Rafael Castillo (Philippine cardiologist, member of the Professional Regulation Commission’s Board of Medicine), Allan Landrito (Philippine community health specialist), Marivic Villa (Fil-Am pulmonologist based in Florida), Sabine-Hazan Steinberg (Morocco-US gastroenterologist, clinical trials specialist), Peter McCullough (US cardiologist), Pierre Kory (US critical care specialist), Ryan Cole (US pathologist), and Homer Lim (President of CDC Ph and an integrative oncologist).
It is a hybrid conference with in person speakers and audience, plus online speakers from the US and an online audience. Tickets are P2,000 for in-person and P500 online local attendees, $20 for online foreign attendees. Vaccination cards or a negative antigen test (available at the entrance) will be required to attend the in-person conference, following the IATF guidelines. More details can be found at https://www.facebook.com/events/423107965866240.
There will also be a fund-raising dinner on Nov. 24 also at Vivere Hotel. Hotel Manager and President of PCCI-Muntinlupa, Elvie Sanchez-Quiazon, has been very generous in supporting the two events.
SLIPPERY SLOPE IN VACCINATION PROGRAM
First, only healthcare workers, the elderly and those with comorbidities must get the COVID-19 vaccine, then this became all 18+ years old must get vaccinated.
Second, only two doses can “protect,” now a third dose will be needed after three or six months.
Soon this booster shot might become mandatory, every six months or yearly.
Third, there is no explicit mandatory vaccination yet but there is mandatory presentation of a negative PCR regularly at the individual’s cost, which will force and coerce the un-vaxxed to get the vaccination.
Fourth, children and those below 18 were initially spared, now they need to be vaxxed. There is also mandatory vaccination for faculty and students in many state universities and colleges before in-person classes resume.
COVID SURGE IN EUROPE
In particular, these countries have steep increases and they have vaccination rates of 61% to 77% of their population as of Nov. 20, meaning up to nearly 100% of adult population:
* Germany, 59-64,000 on Nov. 17-20, previous peaks were 30-32,000 in mid-April.
* The Netherlands, 20-23,000 on Nov. 17-20, previous peaks were 12-13,000 in mid-December 2020.
* Belgium, 18-21,000 on Nov. 18-20, previous peaks were 21-24,000 in Oct. 29-30, 2020.
* Austria, 14-19,000 in Nov. 17-20, previous peak was 9,000 in mid-November 2020.
* The Czech Republic, 14-23,000 in Nov. 17-20, previous peak was 17,000 in early January.
* Hungary, 5-21,000 in Nov. 15-20, previous peak was 11,000 in late March.
* Greece, 6-8,000 in Nov. 9-20, previous peak 4,600 in early April.
* The UK has sustained high daily cases of 34-51,000 from October to November.
Bienvenido S. Oplas, Jr. is the president of Minimal Government Thinkers.
BWorld 513, Climate and coal, PSALM, NEA and NGCP, November 14, 2021
BWorld 514, Vaccination plateau and rising cases, Part 2, November 18, 2021
BWorld 515, Blackout economics, COP26 and Negros’ power prices, November 24, 2021.