P180B foregone during two-week ECQ, says Lopez

Pending the findings of a study on the effects of the latest lockdown to the economy, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said initial estimates from lost business opportunities during the two-week ECQ period amounted to at least 1 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) or about P180 billion.

He said an ongoing survey would determine the actual losses during the lockdown period and another survey which would be launched soon, would assess the impact of modified ECQ to the economy.

Citing pre-lockdown figures, Lopez said the number of closed businesses went down to 4.6 percent, but the numbers were expected to scale up as restriction measures forced companies to temporarily close or, for many, permanently halt operations due to insufficient capital and lack of consumer demand.

“As we move on to ease restrictions from MECQ to general community quarantine, we are expecting to find employment for an estimated 1 million Filipinos who lost their livelihood in the last two weeks.

Based on a labor survey, about 1.5 million workers lost their jobs and 500,000 of them are estimated to find or have found work during the MECQ when the government relaxed restrictions on some sectors and industries,” he said.

“It is given that many industries and businesses will be deeply impacted by the shifting quarantine schedule. We remain as open as possible to help those who are in need of financial assistance. We continue to offer soft loan programs to small businesses as we carefully trudge through the pandemic. We hope that the businesses allowed to operate during MECQ will help in increase the number of active workers in the labor force,” he added.

The government has allowed low-risk sectors and activities 50 percent operating capacity in the MECQ.

Among the activities allowed are supermarkets, groceries, pharmaceuticals, drug stores, markets, hardware, banks, medical clinics and hospitals, and utilities like electricity, water and telecommunications.

Lopez also warned households to practice strict social decorum and refrain from promoting or attending gatherings.

“Unless the reason for going out of our houses is an essential errand, I implore everyone to stay at home. The new variants are highly-contagious. It will be prudent to just remain in the safety of our homes especially for members of the family who are not allowed to go out of the confines of their residences,” Lopez said.

He expressed optimism that the country might soon achieve herd immunity as the government pursues talks with 4 new vaccine suppliers that are said to be nearing the conclusion of their clinical trials.

This is on top of the available COVID vaccines from established manufacturers and suppliers.

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