Preparing  now for  post-COVID-19 recovery  period

Published April 8, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin


The national  government  is already looking  far into the future when the COVID-19 pandemic shall  have  run its course.  It has decided that a major way to mobilize the  economy after  all these weeks and months  of  inactivity  would be  a big  increase in infrastructure  spending.

The Enhanced  Community Quarantine (ECC) that locked down Metro Manila and  the rest of Luzon began on March 15 along with a State of Calamity  in the rest of the country. Many local government units in the south enforced various levels of quarantine,  all  with the  goal of stopping the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19),

The month-long quarantine  in Metro Manila and Luzon is due to end on April 16 but  it is expected  to be lifted only gradually in the next  two weeks. Even as private offices and factories begin  resuming their operations, we must  continue   the “social distancing” that has kept the virus from spreading as fast as it has in other countries.  If all goes well, the quarantine may be lifted by May.

But the national government is looking beyond May to the remaining months of 2020. The national economy  has  suffered  a  big  setback and the best  way to recovery is via stepped-up  infrastructure spending.  The “Build, Build, Build” program of the Duterte administration already has 100 approved projects – roads, bridges, airports, seaports, irrigation and other water projects. Half of these will be completed by the end of the  Duterte  administration in  2022. The  other  50 will all begin before  the term  ends.

In  the wake of the economic slowdown  caused  by COVID-19, Secretary  of  Finance Carlos Dominguez  III  said  the national government will now boost  its infrastructure spending,  using  P203.8 billion  already allocated to the Department  of  Public Works and  Highways in the national budget,  plus P100.6 billion allocated to the Department  of Transportation.

The  projects  to  be launched with these funds  “will create  jobs, stimulate demand, and enhance connectivity,”   Secretary Dominguez  said.  The projects will immediately create construction  jobs  and this in turn will simulate other businesses  And  upon  the completion of a project, such as a new seaport,  a  whole new range of economic  activity will arise from the new seaport.

The COVID-19  problem  is still very much with us, but the government  is  already   looking forward to when  it ends. There has  been  a  big  slowdown  in national economic  activity, but  even  now  we are preparing  for it.