NEDA raises economic loss estimate

Published August 7, 2021, 4:04 PM

by Chino S. Leyco

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick T. Chua raised his initial estimated losses from the two-week lockdown from P210 billion to P300 billion after other areas outside the National Capital Region (NCR) were also placed under varying levels of strict quarantine controls.

Enhanced Community Quarantine

Chua said the economy would incur about P150 billion per week in production losses under the current Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) quarantine rules.

“The CQ [community quarantine] classification beginning August 6, 2021 puts 68 percent of the economy in GCQ [general community quarantine] with heightened restrictions or stricter,” Chua said.

The latest IATF quarantine classifications also increased the number of poor people and jobless Filipinos, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) calculated.

From the initial estimate of additional 444,000 unemployed individuals, Chua said the new varying levels of quarantine would intend employers to layoff 600,000 employees.

Moreover, the stricter quarantine status also further raised poverty by additional 250,000, an increase from NEDA’s earlier estimate of around P177,000.

The latest figures provided by NEDA has put into consideration areas under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), modified ECQ (MECQ), and GCQ with heightened restrictions, Chua said.

On July 30, the NEDA chief said cash aid and accelerated vaccination program would help in partly reversing the negative impact of the August 6 to 20 lockdown on the economy.

The Department of Budget and Management already released P10.89 billion to cover the financial assistance of affected individuals and households in Metro Manila that was placed under ECQ.

Local government units, meanwhile, assured that it is vaccination as usual in NCR as the capital region is expected to get an additional four million COVID-19 vaccine doses during the two-week hard lockdown.

Metro Manila was under a week-long GCQ with heightened and additional restrictions before reverting back to ECQ last Friday.

Chua admitted that economic losses are significant during a period of hard lockdown, but could be partially reversed, “if we use the three-weeks to accelerate vaccination of everyone in the high risk areas.”

“This way, the ECQ will be an investment to pave the way for a recovery once we control Delta spread,” Chua explained.

The Philippines currently experiences yet another surge in coronavirus infections due to the highly transmissible Delta variant.

Chua admitted that the risks from Delta variant were higher this time.

The rapidly spreading coronavirus variant has forced the government to put the breaks on plans to further reopening the local economy.

Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III earlier said the country sometimes needs to take steps backward to protect the gains achieved amid the ongoing pandemic.

“Sometime last year I made the observations that this contagion would most likely not disappear quickly and that sometimes we may have to take a step backwards after taking two forward, to protect our gains achieved in combating the virus,” Dominguez told reporters.

“I believe the new variant has forced us to do exactly that,” he pointed out.