Marcos: PH to refocus on economy after WHO declares end to COVID emergency

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 22) — President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said his administration will now “refocus” its efforts on boosting the economy as the World Health Organization (WHO) ended the global emergency status of COVID-19.

In his speech during a visit to the Asian Development Bank headquarters in Mandaluyong, Marcos welcomed WHO’s declaration.

“It gave the world reassurance that perhaps the worst is over,” he said.

“With this development, we can now refocus our plans and priorities and train our sight with renewed vigor, carefully guided by the stinging lessons of the pandemic, we can now refocus our priorities on the development of our economy and the betterment of the lives of ordinary Filipinos,” Marcos added.

Since assuming the presidency in June 2022, Marcos decided to do away with hard lockdowns as he sought to prop up the local economy. Under the leadership of former President Rodrigo Duterte, the Philippines' lockdown was said to be the world's longest and strictest.

The president said that he met with the board of governors of the ADB late last year to gain their assistance in navigating the Philippines in the post-pandemic world.

Marcos said the Philippine government would continue to work with the ADB to pursue its “high priority development goals,” which include infrastructure and efforts to mitigate the effects of climate change.

“As we ramp up annual public infrastructure spending to 6% of GDP (gross domestic product) consistent with the build better more program, we will incorporate the elements of sustainability, climate resilience and disaster proofing in all phases of societal and infrastructural planning, design, construction up to operation and maintenance,” he said.

“It will be implemented in our water supply, in our sanitation, energy and transportation systems, including agri and food production and many other essential areas,” Marcos said.

In the first quarter of 2023, the Philippine economy expanded by 6.4%, weaker than the 7.1% growth posted in the last three months of 2022.

The Marcos administration has set a target of 6% to 7% growth this year.