Acting NEDA chief tasked to present ânew normalâ plan
According to Roque, Chua will work “in close coordination with the other members of the President’s economic managers, to prepare the Philippines for a new normal and mitigate the socioeconomic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Acting NEDA chief tasked to present ‘new normal’ plan
Christina Mendez (The Philippine Star) - April 19, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Continuing the country’s economic momentum is what Malacañang expects of the new head of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) as the Luzon-wide lockdown enforced to stop the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) continues to take its toll on the economy.

“We expect acting NEDA director-general Karl Kendrick Chua, who is set to assume office next week, to continue the economic momentum set by his predecessor, who is also a former colleague in the UP School of Economics,” presidential spokesman Harry Roque Jr. said yesterday. President Duterte appointed Chua as socio-economic planning secretary and NEDA chief in an acting capacity following the resignation of Ernesto Pernia.

According to Roque, Chua will work “in close coordination with the other members of the President’s economic managers, to prepare the Philippines for a new normal and mitigate the socioeconomic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Prior to Pernia’s resignation, NEDA was part of the task force on forward planning formed by the inter-agency task force on the management of emerging infectious diseases.  

The task group is among those assigned to present tomorrow its recommendation on the course of action after the lifting of the enhanced community quarantine on April 30.

Secretary to the Cabinet Karlo Nograles said the task force will assess the impact of the one and a half-month lockdown in Luzon based on five parameters: epidemiological curve, health, social, economic and security aspects.

“All of those five parameters will be taken into consideration,” Nograles said.

“And then that will guide us all the way for next week. And then at one point, we will present that to the President because by next week, we should be able to present something to the President because the week after that, that’s already the week within the April 30 timeline,” Nograles said.

Malacañang expressed gratitude to Pernia for his service. “The Palace expresses its sincerest gratitude to former socioeconomic planning secretary Ernesto Pernia for his valuable contribution to the Philippine economy. Secretary Pernia formed part of the President’s economic team which steered the country’s strongest economic growth since the mid 1970s,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) is drafting a post COVID-19 recovery plan designed to preserve jobs in companies affected by the pandemic.

“We are now conceptualizing a post-COVID recovery plan which we intend to present to the interagency task force (IATF) probably by first or second week of May,” Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said.

“Our workers should not lose their jobs. That’s the central focus of our program – to ensure job preservation. More important than the issue of security of tenure is the issue of employment,” he pointed out.

Labor Assistant Secretary Dominique Tutay said DOLE is already discussing plans for the gradual lifting of the lockdown.

“We are preparing for the post lifting of the lockdown, like what assistance should be given to the affected workers and companies,” Tutay told The STAR.

She said guidelines have to be issued to determine which companies would be included in the first phase of the gradual lifting of quarantine.

As of yesterday, Bello reported that DOLE has already distributed one time P5,000 cash assistance to 237,653 formal workers and  178,549 informal workers.

Bello said that while DOLE has already stopped accepting applications, it is still targeting to provide cash assistance to more COVID affected workers.

According to Bello, the Department of Finance (DOF) and the Social Security System (SSS) are preparing programs to provide assistance to workers not covered under the DOLE program.

He also said DOLE has cash assistance as well as alternative employment or livelihood for displaced migrant workers.

The department is also mulling over the granting of hazard pay to health workers in the private sector during the quarantine.

“Hazard pay is only given to government, but we are thinking of recommending that workers from the private sector be included. We will just have to wait for the approval of the IATF and the President,” Bello said.  – Mayen Jaymalin

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