The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said cash aid and accelerated vaccination program would help in partly reversing the negative impact of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) on the economy.

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick T. Chua said Friday, July 30, that Metro Manila’s shift back to ECQ from August 6 to 20 would result in roughly P210 billion in losses to the local economy.

Chua said the strictest quarantine status would also raise poverty and intend employers to layoff employees.

“Each week of ECQ in NCR [national capital region] will cost economy P105 billion, also increase poor people by up to 177,000 and 444,000 more without jobs,” Chua told reporters, citing the latest estimates by NEDA.

President Duterte approved a recommendation to place Metro Manila under ECQ after undergoing a week-long general community quarantine (GCQ) with heightened and additional restrictions from July 30 to August 5.

Chua admitted that economic losses are significant during a period of hard lockdown, but could be partially reversed, “if we use the three-weeks to accelerate vaccination of everyone in the high risk areas.”

“This way, the ECQ will be an investment to pave the way for a recovery once we control Delta spread,” Chua explained.

Moreover, the NEDA chief said that distribution of cash assistance to certain individuals or households in places under ECQ will help in mitigating the losses.

The Philippines currently experiences yet another surge in coronavirus infections due to the highly transmissible Delta variant.

Chua admitted that the risks from Delta variant were higher this time.

The rapidly spreading coronavirus variant has forced the government to put the breaks on plans to further reopening the local economy.

Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III earlier said the country sometimes needs to take steps backward to protect the gains achieved amid the ongoing pandemic.

“Sometime last year I made the observations that this contagion would most likely not disappear quickly and that sometimes we may have to take a step backwards after taking two forward, to protect our gains achieved in combating the virus,” Dominguez told reporters.

“I believe the new variant has forced us to do exactly that,” he pointed out.

Source: Manila Bulletin (