Prolonged GCQ won’t pull economy up—DOF

Published July 16, 2020, 10:00 PM

by Chino S. Leyco

The prolonged general community quarantine (GCQ) over Metro Manila and key areas of southern Luzon will not ease the country’s economic pain, the Department of Finance (DOF) said yesterday. 

Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III said the decision to keep the National Capital Region along with Cavite, Rizal and Laguna under GCQ until the end of the month will limit the economic recovery from a recession.

 But Dominguez believes that signs of economic improvement in Metro Manila and the adjacent Calabarzon region could be maintained under GCQ as it is generally less stringent than the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).

 “I don’t know if it [GCQ] will deepen the recession, it probably will level it off, but certainly it will not pull us up,” Dominguez told reporters in the a mobile phone message.

President Rodrigo R. Duterte decided late Wednesday to once again extend the GCQ over Metro Manila until July 31 after he initially opted to revert the country’s capital to the more stringent modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ).
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque disclosed that the chief executive had agreed to place Metro Manila under MECQ following recommendation of health experts amid the rising coronavirus cases.

But the President opted to keep NCR under GCQ after Metro Manila mayors promised to strengthen their localized lockdowns and intensify testing, tracing as well as treatment of coronavirus patients, Roque explained.

In Calabarzon region, Laguna, Cavite, and Rizal also remained under GCQ, while Batangas, Quezon, and Lucena City have

transitioned to the most lenient modified general community quarantine (MGCQ).

Earlier, Dominguez pushed for a shift of Metro Manila and Calabarzon—accounting for about 70 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP)—“as quickly as possible” to MGCQ to kickstart the economy.

“We have to face the new reality. The reality today is that the virus is not going to go away and we will have to live with it for a long period of time,” Dominguez said.

Acting Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick T. Chua had said the economic impact of the quarantine measures in country is “more severe than expected.”

 “What we are seeing actually from the latest data in April and May is that the impact of the ECQ was more severe than expected and you can see that in the trade data, in the manufacturing volume of production data, and also in employment,” Chua said.

For this reason, Dominguez said the economic team is now reviewing its projection that GDP may only contract by around 2.0 percent to 3.4 percent this year.