DTI sees return of P 30B in lost wages with further easing of restrictions
Further easing quarantine restrictions in Metro Manila may mean the return of about P30 billion in lost wages as more Filipinos are allowed to go back to work, according to Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez.
In a Malacañang briefing on Monday, Lopez was asked to quantify the potential benefits if Metro Manila, the center of the Philippines’ economic activity, were to deescalate to alert level 3 from the current level 4 on the assumption that COVID-19 cases will be brought under control.
“Let’s compare it to when we had an ECQ (enhanced community quarantine) and MECQ (modified ECQ), which is quite similar to our alert level 4. The impact that I can remember from past reports is it’s something like P30 billion per week in terms of wages, especially in NCR (National Capital Region),” Lopez said in Filipino.
“The difference here is we have a slight reopening in dine-in and personal care. So it will be in that vicinity. This means that is the potential [value] that we can bring back to the economy if we lower to an alert level 3,” Lopez added.
Lopez was likely referring to the estimate made by Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua in April this year, when Metro Manila and other provinces had to be placed on ECQ. Chua said, however, said it would be a loss of P30 billion in income for two weeks, not one, as Lopez said.
A reliance on lockdowns, without the necessary improvements in contact tracing and testing or in an efficient distribution of cash aid, had pushed business groups to call for the reopening the economy at least for the vaccinated to inject more life into the battered business sector.
The Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the largest business group in the country, even went to the extreme of calling for a full opening, even if Metro Manila is yet to reach herd immunity or vaccination of at least 70 percent of the target population.
The Action for Economic Reforms (AER), meanwhile, said in a recent statement that the government should impose stricter quarantine measures. But AER said the government should learn from its past missteps by this time providing enough support for the poor and unemployed so they would stay home.
“Countries that are able to contain the pandemic through strict quarantine measures combined with decisive health interventions and ample economic aid are the first to recover jobs, investments and growth,” AER said. INQ
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