Full operation of more sectors, businesses pressed to spur economy
MANILA, Philippines — Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez wants more businesses in more sectors to be allowed to operate at full capacity even in areas under general community quarantine (GCQ) in a bid to re-stimulate the economy amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.
During the Senate hearing on the proposed budget of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) on Monday, Lopez underscored the need to open up more sectors whether in areas under GCQ or modified GCQ (MGCQ).
“Since this pandemic started, what we have been pushing for is that, as much as possible, we can keep the same enforcement, we can keep the minimum health standard, but please, after six months, we should reopen already the remaining sectors. That’s my appeal,” Lopez said.
“I understand it is not a popular appeal, especially to the health workers, but what we are trying to guarantee is if we keep the enforcement still strict and minimum health standards are in place, I believe we can safely reopen it. It’s been six months and the virus will not go away,” he added.
Metro Manila and several other areas are still under a GCQ until September 30. New quarantine measures are expected to be announced by President Rodrigo Duterte Monday night.
Asked if he is in favor of transitioning areas under GCQ to the less stringent MGQC, Lopez answered in the affirmative.
“I am in favor of modified GCQ but only for the purpose of re-opening the economy,” the DTI chief said, adding that he has already made this proposal to the government’s COVID-19 task force.
Nevertheless, Lopez said he would still support the retention of the GQC set-up, provided that the more sectors will be allowed to fully operate.
“We are appealing. It may not be MGCQ—although the numbers and statistics are improving—but we will be happy with the GCQ provided we open up more of the sectors,” he added.
“We open up more sectors, especially those in the Category 3. Right now they are still 50 percent—it’s good that they are open—but if we allow more of this sector to even reach up to 100 percent which would be a number sana under MGCQ ay malaking matulong sa employment,” he added.
Among these sectors include legal and accounting, management and consultancy, architecture and engineering, science and research, advertising and marketing, publishing, film, music, as well as production.
Allowing these sectors to fully operate would be helpful in “bringing back more workers, more income and then re-stimulating the economy,” stressed Lopez.
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