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P83.3 billion in wages lost during quarantine
During the Cabinet meeting with President Duterte late Monday night, acting Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Chua said loss of jobs and incomes is the consequence of imposing community quarantines just like last year.
KJ Rosales, file

P83.3 billion in wages lost during quarantine

Louise Maureen Simeon (The Philippine Star) - April 21, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Forgone wages during the month-long quarantine restriction are expected to reach P83.3 billion as the government continues to rely on lockdowns to control surging COVID-19 cases.

During the Cabinet meeting with President Duterte late Monday night, acting Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Chua said loss of jobs and incomes is the consequence of imposing community quarantines just like last year.

For every week of enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), some P19.6 billion in potential wages are lost as Filipinos cannot go to work.

This means that the two-week ECQ in Metro Manila and nearby provinces last March 29 to April 11 resulted in P39.2 billion in foregone wages.

The ECQ was downgraded to modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) starting April 12 and will last until April 30.

At least P14.7 billion is being lost for every week of MECQ, bringing total losses to P44.1 billion for the three-week period.

“That is a total of five weeks and the effect of that is P83.3 billion in foregone wages and, of course, this is one of our concerns,” Chua said.

“But we need to help each other to solve this COVID-19 spike so that we can slowly open the economy again and bring back jobs and incomes of people,” he said.

Unemployment rate remains high and even rose to 8.8 percent in February, accounting for 4.2 million unemployed Filipinos in the labor force.

Chua said there has already been a significant improvement in the job market prior to the recent spike in cases, compared with 8.7 million jobless Filipinos last year.

“We opened the economy in the safest possible manner and recovered the lost jobs last year. This is very important as this is what runs our economy,” he said.

NEDA is targeting to bring back the unemployment rate to its pre-COVID level at four to five percent by next year.

Apart from jobs and incomes, Chua also expressed concern over the rising cost of food commodities, especially pork meat which significantly pushed inflation up.

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