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Philippines maintains lower-middle-income status amid pandemic

THE PHILIPPINES remained a lower-middle-income economy after a coronavirus pandemic pulled the economy down last year, according to the World Bank.

The country’s gross national income (GNI) per capita went down by 11% to $3,430 last year from $3,850 a year earlier, based on updated data posted on the multilateral lender’s website

This fell within the lender’s income bracket for lower-middle-income economies of $1,046 to $4,095 GNI per capita, which was raised from $1,036-$4,045 last year to account for inflation.

The World Bank also increased its income range for the upper-middle-income bracket to a GNI capital of $4,096-$12,695 from $4,046-$12,535.

The Philippines targets to graduate to the upper-middle-income status by 2022. It is also seeking to get an “A” long-term credit rating next year, when it loses access to concessional loans.

The government was still on track to be within the higher income bracket by the second half of next year, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick T. Chua said in a Viber message on Sunday.

The economy’s record 9.6% drop in economic output last year led to a lower GNI per capita income, he said. His office estimates that the country lost P2 trillion in potential economic output last year amid coronavirus lockdowns.

The Philippines joined 54 other countries in the lower-middle-income category, which includes India, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, Timor-Leste and Vietnam.

The World Bank said other economies still managed to climb higher in the income classifications despite the pandemic, such as Moldova, which is now an upper-middle-income economy with a GNI per capita of $4,570.

Countries that graduated to the lower-middle-income status from being low-income economies were: Haiti, whose GNI per capita rose to $1,250, and Tajikistan with a $1,060 GNI per capita.

Economies that moved to a lower category were Belize, Indonesia, Iran, Mauritius, Panama, Romania and Samoa.

Philippine GNI — the sum of its economic output and net income received from overseas — dropped by 11.4% in 2020, a complete turnaround from the 5.4% growth in 2019.

For the first quarter, its GNI fell by 10.9%, sharper than the 1.6% slump a year earlier. — Beatrice M. Laforga

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