The Philippine economy shrank for the third straight quarter in July-September, official data showed Tuesday, but there were signs activity was slowly picking up as coronavirus restrictions eased and more businesses reopened.President Rodrigo Duterte’s government has been gradually loosening measures introduced in March to contain the virus after they sent the country plunging into its first recession in three decades and pushed many families deeper into poverty.Gross domestic product fell 11.5 percent on-year in the latest quarter, the Philippine Statistics Authority said. That was worse than the 9.6 percent contraction forecast by economists in a Bloomberg survey.But it was smaller than the downwardly revised 16.9 percent fall in the April-June and 0.7 drop in the first three months of the year.Acting Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua said the narrower contraction in the latest period indicated the economy was on the mend.”The path is clearer for a stronger bounce back in 2021,” Chua said.
Consumer spending fell 9.3 percent as many people fearful of catching the virus that has infected around 400,000 in the country avoided shopping malls and restaurants.But it was better than the 15.5 percent plunge seen in the second quarter as the government extended operating hours and allowed more types of businesses to reopen. Chua said the recovery in Metro Manila, which accounts for a third of the country’s output, was constricted by limited public transport.Trains, buses and the popular jeepneys have been operating at reduced capacity because of social distancing rules. The country’s economic woes have been exacerbated by a drop in the amount of money sent home by the legion of Filipinos working abroad that sustains many families. Remittances fell 2.6 percent in the first eight months as thousands of workers lost their jobs and came home.