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NEDA revises projected lockdown losses to P150 billion a week

Louise Maureen Simeon - The Philippine Star
NEDA revises projected lockdown losses to P150 billion a week
Residents flock to the Marikina Public Market to buy fresh produce on Aug. 7, 2021. Under IATF guidelines, only authorized persons outside of residence will be allowed to go out, including one member per family to buy food and other essential goods.
The STAR / Walter Bollozos, file

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine economy will lose at least P150 billion per week as Metro Manila and other areas are placed under the strictest quarantine measure as the country grapples with the expected spread of the more transmissible COVID-19 Delta variant.

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Chua said the economy is poised to bleed hundreds of billions of pesos and increase the number of poor and jobless Filipinos as Metro Manila and other provinces revert to a two-week enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).

The latest estimate of P150 billion in losses per week has been increased from the earlier P105 billion as the government added more provinces under ECQ.

Aside from Metro Manila, nearby Laguna and the cities of Iloilo and Cagayan de Oro are also under ECQ.

Other parts of Calabarzon such as Cavite, Lucena City and Rizal are under modified ECQ while Batangas and Quezon are placed under general community quarantine (GCQ) with heightened restrictions.

While the bulk of economic activity is centered in Metro Manila, Calabarzon is also a major economic player with several manufacturing hubs and other services located in the region.

“The CQ classification beginning Aug. 6 puts 68 percent of the economy in GCQ with heightened restrictions or stricter,” Chua said.

“This will result in lost production output of about P150 billion per week affecting more than 600,000 workers and will increase the number of poor by about 250,000,” he said.

The latest figures are a huge jump from the 177,000 additional poor people and 444,000 more Filipinos without jobs as earlier projected.

However, Chua maintained that economic impact can be partly reversed if the lockdowns will be properly used to accelerate vaccination of Filipinos, especially in high risk areas.

“While the ECQ is expected to slow down economic activities in August, this is an investment towards a strong recovery in 2021,” Chua said.

“We encourage everyone to use this time to get vaccinated, so we can safely reopen the economy once we have contained the spread of the Delta variant,” he said.

Further, NEDA said concerned government agencies assured Filipinos of stable and affordable food across the country amid renewed mobility curbs.

For pork, Chua emphasized that prices are expected to go down this second half of the year as more imports come in through the increased minimum access volume allocation and lower tariffs.

For fish, the Department of Agriculture will expedite the issuance of the certificate of necessity to import to cover the domestic demand gap during the closed fishing season starting October.

Economists earlier said the new round of lockdown will directly hit economic engines as it hinders household spending while mobility curbs will likely shackle the troubled services sector and constrain overall industrial activity.

It will also force would-be investors to rethink their plans as lockdowns appear to be the blunt weapon of choice to deal with the crisis, despite authorities repeatedly vowing to never resort to such measures.

The third quarter gross domestic product is likewise expected to exhibit another drop amid mobility restriction, with the two-week ECQ equivalent to more or less 0.5 percent of GDP per week.

COVID-19 VARIANT LOCKDOWN
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