MANILA, May 12 (Xinhua) -- The Philippine economy expanded 8.3 percent year-on-year in the first quarter of 2022, exceeding the pre-pandemic first-quarter level, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) said on Thursday.
In a press conference, PSA head Dennis Mapa said the main contributors to the gross domestic product (GDP) growth in the first quarter included the manufacturing sector, with 10.1 percent, and transportation and storage, 26.5 percent.
Among the major economic sectors, Mapa said agriculture, forestry and fishing, industry, and services all posted positive growths in the first quarter, at 0.2 percent, 10.4 percent, and 8.6 percent, respectively.
On the demand side, Mapa said household final consumption expenditure grew by 10.1 percent in the first quarter of 2022.
Mapa said government final consumption expenditure grew by 3.6 percent, gross capital formation by 20.0 percent, exports of goods and services, by 10.3 percent, and imports of goods and services, by 15.6 percent.
Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua said full reopening of the economy is the "single most important driver" for growth. "The big bulk is really from the reopening of the economy," he told a press conference.
"We have overcome our country's greatest economic and health challenges. The headwinds we faced were strong, but our quick rebound from the Omicron surge in January proved that we can live and deal with the virus," Chua said.
With strengthened health care capacity and accelerated vaccination program, Chua said the Philippine government is able to contain the coronavirus surge and safely reopen the economy.
The Southeast Asian country has lowered the COVID-19 threat level. By the end of March, around 70 percent of the economy was placed in alert level 1, the lowest on a scale of 5.
"This quick turnaround in the first quarter shows that we can win both the economic and health battles," Chua said.
Chua added that the first-quarter GDP growth is a significant reversal from the 3.8 percent contraction in the first quarter of 2021.
"We have surpassed the pre-pandemic GDP level. Growth in the first quarter exceeded the median analysts' forecast of 7 percent, making the Philippines the fastest growing economy in the East Asian region for the period," he added.
"Our strong economic performance moves us closer to achieving our growth target of 7 to 9 percent this year," Chua said, vowing to work hard to strengthen the country's economy against heightened external risks including those related to the Russia-Ukraine conflict and monetary normalization in the United States.
Indeed, the recovery of the Philippine economy is forecast to gain traction in this year and next, fueled by strengthening domestic investment and consumption.
The Asian Development Bank forecasts a 6.0 percent GDP growth in 2022 and 6.3 percent in 2023 for the country.
The country's GDP grew by 5.7 percent in 2021 after the economy contracted by 9.6 percent in 2020 due to the pandemic. ■