Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick T. Chua, said reimposing
a strict lockdown should be the
last resort for the government,
despite the detection of the
highly infectious variant of the
coronavirus in the country.
In his presentation at the
Junior FINEX (JFINEX) online forum on Thursday, Chua
said the strictest form of lockdown, where 75% of the economy was shut down, caused
23.7 million more people to
go hungry, 4.5 million more to
slip into poverty, and roughly
2.7 million to lose their jobs.
“The economy is strong
enough to recover if we allow
it to do so. But our quarantine
restrictions prevent the economy from fully recovering and
the answer to that is not to give more subsidies but to open the
economy more, because all the
subsidies will be expensive for
the people,” Chua said.
“We need to assess the
risks around the new variant. It
is part of living with the virus.
We can prioritize the enforcement of health standards and
proactive travel restriction.
Higher quarantine should be
the last resort,” he said.
Luzon was placed under
enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) from mid-March
to end-May, halting nearly all
economic activity resulting to
the Philippine economy falling into its first recession in
nearly 30 years with a record
16.9% contraction in the second quarter.
Economic managers expect gross domestic product
(GDP) to have contracted by
8.5-9.5% in 2020. Official
GDP data will be out on Jan.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry L. Roque, Jr. said
that existing policies will remain in effect while waiting
for the decision of Duterte and
the task force for infectious
diseases on any new measures
that will be adopted to contain
the new variant.
Chua, who heads the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), said
the state should also make
sure that the mass transport is
sufficient yet safe, while stimulating consumer demand by
allowing family activities.