Limited public transport slows economic recovery — NEDA

The Philippines’ ability to recoup economic losses brought about by coronavirus pandemic is being constrained by lack of mobility amid easing lockdown measures, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said yesterday.  

Socioeconomic Undersecretary Rosemarie Edillon said the local economy fails to fully maximize the potential economic activity under the general community quarantine (GCQ) status due to limited public transport services. 

Edillon said that Metro Manila, the country’s top economic hub, should have been 70 percent to 75 percent open under less restrictive GCQ since the start of June.

 But the NEDA official admitted that “our problem though is that we have not get open-up fully the public transport system.”

“This has actually adversely constrained our ability to really open up those opened up sectors, because of the lack of mobility,” Edillon told reporters.

She said that it will be difficult to revive the economy without bringing back various modes of public transport.

“Hopefully we can already come up with concrete measures on how to allow more of the transport sector to be able to operate,” Edillon said.

Earlier, the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), the country’s largest business organization, has strongly urged the government to open businesses to full capacity, along with public transportation, to restart the economy.

PCCI said the availability of all public transport modes is vital to encouraging businesses to open up.

Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III had also suggested that more public transportation should be made available to improve people’s mobility.

Dominguez also wanted Metro Manila and its adjacent Calabarzon region to transition to the most relaxed quarantine controls to spur economic activities.

He explained the prolonged GCQ over Metro Manila and key areas of southern Luzon will not ease the country’s economic pain.

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 gross domestic product may only contract by around 2.0 percent to 3.4 percent this year.