House presses measures to cushion effects of COVID-19 on economy and employment

Students wearing protective masks join a school activity in Manila, Philippines on Friday, Jan. 31, 2020 in this file photo. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

To help cushion the effects of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) to Philippine economy, particularly the tourism industry, the leadership of the House of Representatives urged the Duterte administration’s economic and infrastructure team to fast-track infrastructure projects of the government.

Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano issued the statement following the hearing of the joint House Committee on Economic Affairs and Tourism on the impact of COVID-19.

Cayetano, citing the Department of Tourism, said the local tourism industry is expected to lose an estimated P42.9 billion from February to April this year due to fears raised by the virus.

“My appeal to the economic team and to the infrastructure team  while the uncertainty of COVID-19 is there, and the country’s international tourism is affected, [is to] fast-track the release and execute infrastructure projects,” he said.

According to Cayetano, the construction projects lined up under the Duterte administration’s “Build, Build, Build” program, as well as other government small-, medium- and large-scale infrastructure projects can definitely create jobs in various parts of the country and boost local economy.

Cayetano said that speeding up infrastructure projects can help absorb the possible “temporary displacement” in the tourism-related jobs during this “uncertain period” while there is still a threat of a COVID-19 outbreak.

He also urged local government units to coordinate with the national government on matters related to budget alignment to prevent delay in the implementation of projects.


House Committee on Trade and Industry Chairman Wes Gatchalian said the Philippine economic managers must brace for the worst as the COVID-19 crisis continues to severely impact the country’s trade and industry.

“The increasing number of COVID-19 cases being reported all over the globe are a serious cause of concern and our economic managers must prepare for a pandemic scenario. We need to prepare and have contingencies in place,” Gatchalian said.

The World Health Organization last week hinted on the possibility of a COVID-19 pandemic as it issued a grim warning on the chances of containing the virus saying the window of opportunity was “narrowing” amid increasing number of cases in outbreaks in South Korea, Iran  and Italy.

Gatchalian, citing the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), said several industries have already been impacted by the flight and travel restrictions to and from mainland China, particularly the electronics, autos and auto parts, and pharmaceutical industries.

The lawmaker said the DTI reported that the supply of electronic parts and components from China has tightened amid the lack of air-cargo space, limited flights and the imposition of the travel ban.

Gatchalian also said several auto hubs in Wuhan, the epicenter of the COVID-19 epidemic, have shut down due to the lockdown. The lockdown has also deferred production and deliveries of pharmaceutical companies.

“There is now a need to revisit economic growth targets for 2020 due to the continuing COVID-19 crisis,” Gatchalian said.


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