NEDA chief says 2-week MECQ good for economy if COVID-19 infections contained
The re-imposition of a two-week modified enhanced community quarantine is good for the economy if the spread of the coronavirus disease is contained and the healthcare system is improved, the country's top economist said on Friday.
In a virtual press briefing, Acting National Economic and Development Authority Director General Karl Kendrick Chua said with the stricter quarantine protocols being enforced in Metro Manila and nearby provinces of Bulacan, Laguna, Cavite and Rizal, the economy is considered "50 percent" open.
"Our situation right now is we have returned to 50 percent, that is the MECQ in Metro Manila and surrounding provinces plus GCQ (general community quarantine) elsewhere. So, the percentage of our economy which is opened is a bit lower," he said.
He acknowledged this will have an impact on economic growth in the short term.
But Chua, also the acting socioeconomic planning chief, said if the healthcare system will not be improved during the two-week period, the problem will prolong itself.
"So what is good now is give this two-week period a chance so that we can strengthen the healthcare system, address the concerns of our healthcare workers so that we can sustain our recovery than we do nothing and many will be infected or get sick," he said.
The Philippine economy contracted for the second consecutive quarter, recording a -16.5 percent drop in the second quarter of this year.
Asked on the impact of the 15-day MECQ in Metro Manila and nearby areas in the third quarter gross domestic product, Chua said, "If during the MECQ we can contain in the next two weeks (the spread of the virus) and we can improve our healthcare system, then this will actually be good for the economy overall, not immediate but in the near term."
"Just like what I have said, if we did nothing right now and continue the GCQ while the healthcare system is in dire need of more help, then our economic recovery will not be sustainable. That's why I think it is better that we take one step back so that we can take two steps forward next time so that our recovery will be more sustainable," he explained.
He added that the government is doing a re-balancing act.
"If we don’t do this (reimposition of MECQ), then as the cases rise, then I don’t think the economy and the productivity of the country will be any better. So that is where we are, so we are doing this re-balancing and we have to address the health problems squarely before we can see better recovery," he said. Celerina Monte/DMS