Philippine economy to lose up to P1.96 billion over Boracay closure

MANILA, Philippines – The country's economy is estimated to lose P980 million per quarter or a total of P1.96 billion over the impending 6-month closure of Boracay, with Western Visayas to suffer the most, according to Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia.

"Boracay, Malay, and Aklan – they will suffer. Region 6 (Western Visayas), their growth rates will be trimmed," Pernia said during a Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC) press conference on Tuesday, April 24.

On the other hand, Pernia said "some areas" in the Visayas will be seeing "some increase in growth," as an estimated 75% of tourists initially planning to travel to Boracay would go to other destinations instead.

"In terms of amount, the reduction in gross domestic product (GDP) itself will amount to P980 million [each quarter] only, so it's a small amount," added Pernia, who is also the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) director general.

NEDA had earlier said the 6-month closure is estimated to only have a 0.1% impact on GDP growth. (READ: Less than a week to go: Boracay braces for 6-month closure)

Despite the 6-month closure of the country's top tourist draw, Pernia said the government is maintaining its economic growth rate forecast of between 7% and 8% for 2018.

Boracay will be closed to tourists for 6 months starting Thursday, April 26, upon the orders of President Rodrigo Duterte, to rehabilitate what he called a "cesspool."

State of calamity

To help displaced workers, Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno said the government is planning to place Boracay under a state of calamity and disburse around P2 billion from the country's calamity fund.

"Declaring [a] state of calamity is an option. I think before Boracay temporarily shuts down [on April 26] the government will declare [a state of calamity]," Diokno told reporters on the sidelines of the press conference.

He added that the calamity fund will be disbursed through the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) once Duterte issues an executive order placing Boracay under a state of calamity.

"We still don't know how much it will cost us because it still depends on how many workers will be displaced," Diokno said when asked if the P2-billion amount is final.

The calamity fund for 2018 stands at P19.6 billion. Under its special provisions, P10 billion had been set aside for the rehabilitation of war-torn Marawi City. This means that P9.6 billion remains for other purposes, including Boracay. – Rappler.com