Being optimistic even in the face of dark clouds hovering over the horizon has been my guiding principle since I started as a small entrepreneur. This positive mentality allowed me to perceive opportunities ahead and achieve success in the competitive business field.
Being upbeat instead of seeing obstacles ahead motivates and inspires my employees and co-workers to pursue and focus on our long-term goals. You don’t allow yourself to get entangled in short-term complications.
The business plan may not initially meet its target but a positive attitude will enable an entrepreneur to adjust to the economic conditions, and make him resilient and recover from the early setbacks. Any business has its ups and downs—the optimist will survive unexpected events while the pessimist will never hit his goal if he is easily discouraged and gives up his dreams at the first sign of trouble.
Taken on a larger context, the Philippine economy faces what many economists call headwinds that may impact on growth, prices and, eventually jobs, if things get out hand. The Israeli-Hamas war in the Middle East will be alarming if it spreads to the rest of the Arab world. We know what that means—much higher oil prices and further global economic slowdown.
But the optimist in me tells me that the conflict will taper off shortly as cooler heads prevail and find a solution to the war. The Philippines has survived the pandemic and the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine. I am optimistic, as any businessman here, that we will also overcome the spillover effects of the Middle East conflict.
In the meantime, entrepreneurs, especially the smaller ones, may have already prepared for the coming Christmas season when consumers spend and invest a lot. Things will be looking good toward the end of the year and that means the Philippine economy will grow strongly in the last quarter of year on increased consumer spending.
Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno is one Cabinet member who is always upbeat on the economy. He expects a more robust economic performance in the second half of 2023, driven by faster spending. I agree with Mr. Diokno, who cited the observation of the International Monetary Fund.
Per the IMF, the second-half economic growth would be faster than the first half of 2023. Expenditures on many infrastructure projects are historically high during the fourth quarter, while the weather is on our side because typhoons rarely strike in the fourth quarter.
I expect the government’s catch up spending in the last two quarters of the year to reinvigorate spending. The economy just grew by 5.3 percent in the first half due to higher inflation and underspending. Economic managers estimate the gross domestic product should grow by at least 6.6 percent in the second half to reach the low-end of the government’s target range of 6 percent to 7 percent.
We may already be seeing the effects of catch up spending that will boost economic growth. The nation’s unemployment rate dropped to a three-month low of 4.4 percent in August 2023 from 4.8 percent in July and 5.3 percent a year ago, per the data of the Philippine Statistics Authority.
About 200,000 more Filipinos from the agricultural and industrial sectors obtained jobs in August in absolute terms. This means an increased number of people were added to the consumer base.
The economic strides we have undertaken in the face of adversities were noticed by an IMF mission that concluded its visit in the first week of October. The IMF team confirmed that “the Philippine economy has emerged from the pandemic strongly” and praised the Medium-Term Fiscal Framework drawn up by the administration of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
Fiscal consolidation as envisaged under the Medium-Term Fiscal Framework, according to the visiting IMF mission, is on track. It reflects a strong revenue performance and lower current spending, and its pace is appropriate to bring the national government debt-to-GDP ratio to less than 60 percent over the medium term, says the IMF.
The pandemic and the Ukraine-Russia war have not deterred the Philippines from pursuing its economic goals. Our nation persevered in the face of elevated oil prices, and higher inflation and interest rates. We were bullish despite the odds. The Philippines never wavered on its goals because growth opportunities were never lacking.