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Digitalization, which has been adopted not only by the private sector but the state agencies as well, proved to have made Filipinos’ lives easier during the pandemic.



Summing up economic events in 2021 is no easy task, especially with all the ups and downs and all the push and pull in the implementation of strict quarantine measures across the country.

Private and public economists alike agree that 2022 economic figures could be brighter, with signs of recovery finally showing and the number of vaccinated continuously growing.

While that recovery may be true, potential risks are right around the corner and if government officials as well as the public won’t maintain their vigilance, another outbreak might occur — which might sap the gains made during the year.

Last week, I summed up macroeconomic data for 2021, including inflation, economic growth and employment numbers.

This time, let’s look at the efforts made by the government in terms of aiding the financial sector and the public.

Digitalization, which has been adopted not only by the private sector but the state agencies as well, proved to have made Filipinos’ lives easier during the pandemic, especially when the need to transact physically has been omitted.

The implementation of online filing of taxes for example — which have been in place even before the pandemic, not only made the public’s processing for such easier, but also tempered the impact of the health crisis in the government’s overall collections.

The increased registration for the national identification system or PhilSys was also expected to contribute in promoting financial inclusion as well as digitalization of retail payments.

Still, the rise of digital payments paved the way for financial technology-based firms or fintech to expand their client base, allowing their businesses to further flourish.

Banks on the other hand, also raised their digital efforts to keep up with the competition as well as the increasing preference for digital payment channels over its traditional counterparts.

On the monetary side, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) has employed various measures to further aid banks as well as the banking public, keeping monetary policy supportive of the economy as long as needed.

For the whole year 2021, the BSP has kept its key interest rate low at 2 percent, allowing interest rates across the industry to remain low as possible and encouraging borrowing activities — which in turn will help stimulate the economy.

Likewise, the central bank placed a rate cap on the interest rates charged for credit cards as well as small loans acquired from lending institutions.

Liquidity or the amount of cash in the local financial system was also boosted by the BSP, with its reduction in reserve requirement ratio for banks as well as the expanded provisional advance of P540 billion extended to the national government to aid in its expenditure needs.

A lot really happened in 2021 and capping such events in this more or less 600-word write-up won’t be enough.

Nevertheless, I would like to direct my gratitude towards those who were able to read my previous columns — as well as to my bosses for opening this avenue to express my thoughts on the local economy.

This may be my last column for this newspaper, but it will certainly not put my pen to rest.