coronavirus
A coffin that bears the sign "Please stay at home or stay inside this coffin" is displayed along Rev. Aglipay in Brgy. Pagasa in Mandaluyong City to warn the residents to stay indoors to avoid contracting the coronavirus disease 2019.
The STAR/Michael Varcas
Lockdown extension to require more funds, global bank says
Ian Nicolas Cigaral (Philstar.com) - April 3, 2020 - 5:42pm

MANILA, Philippines — With coronavirus infections still on the rise, the Philippine government may be compelled to extend the month-long Luzon lockdown beyond April 12, a move that would require more state funding and efficient resource distribution, global investment bank Nomura said.

In a report released on Thursday evening, the Japan-based lender said the “key risk” for the Philippines is when authorities decided to follow other countries in extending a broad lockdown introduced last March 17 amid “still-rising” confirmed cases in the country.

Nomura also flagged a possible increase in social unrest amid delays in distribution of both relief goods and funds.

“We believe an extended lockdown would not only require an improvement of the distribution of relief measures but also more funding,” Nomura said.

“We therefore continue to believe that, similar to what other countries have already done in the region, a sizeable supplementary budget (apart from reallocations of the existing budget) will have to be passed,” it added.

As of Friday afternoon, the Philippines reported a total of 3,018 confirmed cases of the coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19). Of those infections,136 died due to complications of the disease.

The pandemic — which emerged in China last December — exposed the Philippine government’s lack of foresight on dealing with the health crisis, which has overwhelmed hospitals and paralyzed the economy amid drastic containment measures that left thousands jobless.

According to Nomura, while the Philippine government “rightly prioritized” provisions for the poor and has acted “relatively swiftly”, there are still some delays in the release of aid due to the magnitude of the problem and red-tape.

“As imposing lockdowns in a bid to contain the spread of the COVID-19 is highly disruptive to economic activity, it will likely affect this vulnerable sector the most, and? targeted assistance will be urgently needed,” the global bank said.

“However, in the absence of social safety nets and if fiscal space or implementation capacity of support measures is limited, the restrictions may not be adhered to strictly or may need to be relaxed at some point, undermining efforts to contain the very outbreak that the lockdown was meant to quickly address,” it added.

Funds for the government’s social amelioration program to ease the impact of COVID-19 outbreak on families will be made available to agencies within one to three days following submission of complete documents, the Department of Budget and Management had said.

The program would grant between P5,000 and P8,000 to 18 million families estimated to have been displaced by work stoppage brought by the outbreak and the Luzon community quarantine.

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