Senator Grace Poe on Friday called on the government to first address the problem on unemployment before easing age restrictions pertaining to quarantine measures to encourage spending and help economic recovery.
“They’ve been telling people to go out and spend to prop up the economy. But before they can spend, they need to have the money to do so. Allowing kids to go out doesn’t address that problem,” Poe said in a statement following the announcement that the Philippine economy declined by a 9.5 percent for the year 2020, the lowest that the country has recorded since 1947.
Poe said consumer spending is only one variable in the gross domestic product, noting that it also includes investments, exports, imports, and government spending.
She said that it is “cruel and insensitive” to tell people to go out and spend after they lost their jobs, and amid the rising prices of commodities.
“If economic planners are looking at consumer spending as the key to economic recovery, what they need to address is how people will have money to spend. I am no economist but they seem to be hyperfocusing on boosting consumer spending as if it was a just a simple solution,” she said.
Poe noted the country has been under community quarantine for 10 months, but the “special amelioration was only provided during the strictest lockdown, or the two months of the enhanced community quarantine.”
She said the government should also hear the clamor and suggestions coming from businesses to address the loss of jobs.
“Economists and businessmen have been calling for a stronger fiscal stimulus since last year to prevent the closure of companies and prevent the loss of jobs. If we are to heal as one, we need to listen to all stakeholders. Wage subsidies would have put money in people’s pockets so they can spend,” Poe said.