Dar joins call for further opening of economy

Published January 13, 2021, 3:20 PM

by Madelaine B. Miraflor

Agriculture Secretary William Dar has joined the call to further open up the Philippine economy despite the COVID-19 pandemic persistence.

This, according to him, could address the country’s food sufficiency level to address hunger amid the pandemic.

Agriculture Secretary William Dar (MANILA BULLETIN)

Among government agencies, it is the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) that is leading the call for the opening of the economy amid the pandemic.

On December 30, Acting Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua said that based on the second and third quarter gross domestic product (GDP) numbers, the National Capital Region (NCR) and adjacent regions lost 0.28 percentage points of its potential GDP growth every week of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) and modified ECQ.

This is equivalent to around P2.1 billion in lost wages a day, which is “significant enough to bring hardship to many people,” Chua further said.

For his part, Dar said a more focused approach is necessary to manage the country’s hunger problem.

“There are many strategies that we need to pursue. These include opening up of the economy, creating more jobs, and implementing livelihood and income-generating opportunities to lift our poor countrymen from poverty and hunger,” Dar, who serves as vice-chair of IATF on Zero Hunger, said.

To address these problems, the Department of Agriculture (DA) aims at doubling the income of farmers and fishers, who are the foundation of the country’s food systems to stimulate them to continue efforts in feeding our ever-growing population.

“We at the DA, in particular, embrace a ‘new thinking’ and a food security development framework for the agriculture sector to adequately serve the needs of Filipinos,” the agri chief said.

He added that the DA will continue to focus on lowering costs of production and ensuring ready markets for farm and fishery products to balance affordable food for consumers and provide decent profit for farmers and fishers.