By Charissa Luci-Atienza
The House committee on economic affairs will jointly tackle next week with the House committee on tourism the necessary contingency measures to cushion the “very substantial impact” of the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) on the economy, particularly on the tourism and labor sectors.
AAMBIS-OWA party-list Rep. Sharon Garin, chairman of the House committee on economic affairs, assured the public that the Lower Chamber is also seeking to address the impact of the Wuhan coronavirus on the country’s economic landscape.
“We will conduct the meeting on Tuesday or Wednesday next week,” she told reporters in a press conference.
She said those expected to be invited are officials from the Department of Tourism (DOT), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), and National Economic Development Authority (NEDA), as well as local government units (LGUs).
House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano earlier directed the Garin panel and the House committee on tourism chaired by Laguna Rep. Sol Aragones to start working with the DOT to assess the short- and medium-term effects of the 2019 nCov.
Garin said the Wuhan coronavirus does has an economic impact and that concerned government agencies should come up with contingency plans.
“In terms of economy, our tourism will be greatly affected,” she said, citing that 20 percent of the total number of tourists are Chinese.
“Our tourism is about 13 percent of the GDP and the contribution of the Chinese tourists is actually 2.2 percent of the GDP. As mentioned by Speaker, we have to have contingencies, what do we do to address the possible effect on our tourism industry.”
DOT records showed that 1.63 million of the 7.4 million international tourist arrivals from January to November 2019 were Chinese.
“We are trying to set a meeting as soon as possible, latest would be next week. We will try to invite those who are concerned,” Garin said.
She said government’s imposition of the temporary travel ban from Hubei, China and other provinces of China that are seriously affected by the dreaded 2019-nCov will affect the economic growth rate of the Philippines.
She pointed to the need to put in place “more permanent and effective” safeguards, saying that banning flights is not probably the best solution in the long run.
“This will substantially affect our economy. This is a problem not only of China but also the rest of the world, not only in the health side, but also the economic side,” she said.
“It will have a big effect on the economy. We need to review what are the possible alternatives we can do so we can maintain the very outstanding growth rate of the Philippines in terms of the economy.”