Chance of overturning COVID-19 economic impact depends on DOH — Salceda

Published May 29, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Ben Rosario


The Philippines still has a good chance of scoring a positive economic growth by the end of the year with the help of the Department of Health’s (DOH) performance in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic.

Albay Representative Joey Salceda (MANILA BULLETIN FILE)
Albay Representative Joey Salceda (MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

Albay Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda, chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means, offered this analysis as the House of Representatives move fast to approve the Philippine Economic Stimulus Act (PESA) that proposes a ₱1.31-trillion economic stimulus package for programs aimed at neutralizing the effects of the pandemic.

“We will enter positive territory, and achieve a V-shaped recovery if and only if the government does its best to improve business and consumer confidence by actually convincing people that it’s safe enough to buy and sell things,” said Salceda in a press statement.

He stated: “Improving DOH performance is the key to unleash creative powers of stimulus. Stimulus won’t work and will just be wasted in a lockdown.”

Salceda, an economist who is also vice chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations, said getting out of COVID-19’s economic impact is all about “confidence – confidence in health, confidence in incomes, confidence about employment, confidence in growth in that order.”

“Again, considering opportunity costs, that’s easily a cost of 13% to 16% more of quarterly GDP that could have been realized if we were under normal circumstances,” he explained.

According to Salceda, experiencing negative growth during the 3rd and 4th quarters would slow down the country’s ability to achieve poverty reduction and countryside development goals will be significantly delayed, perhaps by several years.

“That is why while we still can, we have to boost the economy with the right signals – one, that we are fully capable of rooting out COVID-19; two, that we will support the economy through a sufficient spending plan; and three, that we will support business expansion through CREATE, the new CITIRA,” he said.

“Our first aim should have always been to do whatever it takes to test and trace people, and when I called for lockdowns, that was what I always emphasized in the papers I would submit: Seize the opportunity to develop testing capacity,” the senior administration solon said.

Meanwhile, Quezon City Rep. Precious Hipolito Castelo urged the DOH to hire more than 13,000 additional healthcare personnel authorized under its budget for this year.

Castelo said DOH has 72,479 permanent positions of which 59,427 are filled, leaving a balance of 13,058.

“Since appropriations for government salaries are released in full, including those for vacant positions, the DOH should have the funds to hire additional personnel to complete its staff,” she said.

Most of the unfilled jobs are for doctors, nurses and midwives.

“We need those additional healthcare workers while we are battling the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 2,000 of our existing personnel had been infected and had been confined to quarantine facilities, though many of them are recovering from the disease,” she stated.