Govt braces for more economic woes due to MECQ

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Malacañang is now bracing for the possible extension of the country’s economic woes up to the third quarter following the two-week lockdown of Metro Manila and its nearby provinces this month.

“I will be lying if I will say there will be no negative [to the economy] during the week [lockdown] because 67 percent of out GDP is from Metro Manila and Region 4-A,” Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said during a online press briefing on Tuesday. 

Last Sunday, President Rodrigo R. Duterte announced National Capital Region (NCR), Laguna, Cavite, Rizal and Bulacan will be placed under modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) from Aug. 4, 2020 to Aug. 18, 2020.  

The measure aims to allow health workers in the said areas to recuperate as well as give time the government expand its testing, tracing, isolation, and treatment activities in NCR, where Covid-19 cases to continue to soar. 

Medical workers were suggesting for the government to enforce a one month ECQ in NCR to effectively “flatten the curve” of Covid-19 cases in the region. 

Compromise measure 

Roque, however, explained the government has to resort to a two-week MECQ as a “compromise” since the country’s economy could no cope with the consequences of a longer lockdown. 

He pointed out the government is now struggling to find additional funding for the providing additional cash aid for workers who will be affected by the latest round of MECQ since Congress has yet to pass the Bayanihan II bill.

The legislation contains the P140-billion stimulus package, which will be used boost the country’s economy so it could recover from the business disruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Roque said they hoped the Congress will still increase the pending fund allocation for the Bayanihan II so that people affected by MECQ could get additional financial assistance.  

The government economic managers the country’s “v-shaped economic recovery” in the third quarter will depend on the prompt passage of the Bayanihan II bill. The legislation is still pending in Congress.  

Prolonged crisis 

Roque said they are anticipating the country’s GDP for the second quarter to be worse than that of the first, where it contracted by 0.2 percent, effectively putting the country in a economic recession.  

Government economic managers are expected to present the GDP data from April to June on Thursday. 

“But even if we have not seen it, we know it will decrease because we know the second quarter was the time when our economy was under lockdown,” Roque said. 

The government only started relaxing its enhanced community quarantine in Luzon and other areas of the country on June allowing more business operations to resume. 

Image credits: Roy Domingo

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