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Economy to bleed P105B for each week NCR is in ECQ —NEDA

The Philippine economy will lose hundreds of billions of pesos while hundreds of thousands of jobs are at stake for each week that Metro Manila - the country’s economic center - is under the strictest quarantine classification, the National  Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said Friday.

“Each week of ECQ (enhanced community quarantine) in NCR (National Capital Region) will cost the economy P105 billion,” Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua said, citing latest estimates from the NEDA.

“Also increase[s] poor people by up to 177,000 and 444,000 more without jobs,” Chua said.

The NEDA chief made the statement after the Malacañang announced that Metro Manila will be placed under ECQ from August 6 to 20 to mitigate the threat of the highly contagious Delta coronavirus variant.

The government earlier placed the capital region under general community quarantine "subject to heightened and additional restrictions” from July 30 to August 5.

In an emailed commentary, Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. chief economist Michael Ricafort said the drag of the upcoming two-week ECQ in NCR on the economy could be about  0.5% of gross domestic product (GDP) per week, “or even less, partly mitigated by the fact that it would coincide with the ghost month observed in some Eastern Asia during most days in August when economic/business activities are relatively less.”

“[I]t is also worth noting that the previous two-week ECQ in NCR Plus from March 29-April 12, 2021 coincided during the Holy Week when economic/business activities were also relatively less,” Ricafort said.

The economist said the upcoming ECQ in NCR is still “way better” compared to the height of the hard lockdowns last year  from mid-March 2020 to May 2020, “when the economy was almost at a standstill and almost no public transportation back then, when the hit on the economy was bigger at close to PHP20 billion per day or P140 billion or close to 1% of GDP per week.”

Nonetheless, Chua said the economic impact of the strict lockdown “can be partly reversed if we use the three weeks to accelerate vaccination of everyone in the high risk areas.”

“This way, the ECQ will be an investment to pave the way for a recovery once we control Delta spread,” the country’s chief economist said.

The Management Association of the Philippines, in a statement, said that while the return to ECQ of Metro Manila will further hurt our struggling businesses, the private sector expects the government to mitigate the damage by increasing vaccine supply and ensuring that vaccination programs continue even under ECQ, as this is really the solution to controlling the pandemic. 

“We further urge the government to relax rules to allow all sectors to avail of vaccination, specially those given by the LGUs which are not covered by Covax rules,” MAP said.

“We also hope that thorough contact tracing will be done to identify and isolate all cases to stop the spread of the virus. Otherwise, we will likely continue to see surges in the future, and we cannot afford more lockdowns,” the group said.

Chua, meanwhile, noted that cash aid for those affected by the reimposition of ECQ in Metro Manila will “mitigate the impact.”

The Palace, however, said earlier that there is no budget for another cash aid for those who will be affected by the lockdown in NCR.

Under ECQ only essential trips and services are allowed, while GCQ with heightened restrictions and additional restrictions protocol bans indoor and al fresco dining.

The decision was reached after the Metro Manila Council, which is composed of Metro Manila mayors, met with the government inter-agency COVID-19 task force to appeal for the imposition of stricter measures in the region.—AOL, GMA News

Tags: news, neda, ECQ, Economy