ECQ seen to shave off 2021 economic growth

THE two-week enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) being implemented in Metro Manila and adjacent provinces will likely trim the Philippines’ gross domestic product (GDP) growth this year by 0.5 to 0.8 percentage points, according to two of the country’s economic managers.

An empty street is seen at Quiapo district in Manila on March 29, 2021, on day one of government’s imposing stricker lockdown, as hospitals in the capital struggle to cope with a surge in coronavirus infections.

“Well, for this lockdown, probably will cost us one half of 1 percent [GDP expansion],” Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez 3rd said during a television interview on Tuesday.

In a separate statement released on Monday night, Acting Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua said, “All in all, the two-week ECQ may shave off 0.8 percentage points from the country’s full year economic growth in 2021.”

Over the weekend, the government extended the stricter ECQ in the National Capital Region and neighboring provinces (NCR Plus) until April 11, 2021, in a bid to curb the high coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) cases.

Besides the impact on growth, Chua added that prolonging the ECQ will also negatively affect the majority of the population.

The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said it estimates that the two-week strict lockdown would result in some 252,000 more individuals without jobs and 102,000 more poor individuals.

On top of these, the more stringent quarantine in NCR Plus translates to a daily household income loss of P2.1 billion or almost P30 billion for the two-week period.

With these, the NEDA is pushing for a more intensified implementation of the Prevent, Detect, Isolate, Treat and Recover strategy, which is crucial in lowering Covid-19 cases.

“The latest data shows that we are at a critical juncture. Our collective actions today will spell the difference between containment and further spread of the virus. ECQ alone does not reduce the spike in the Covid-19 cases,” Chua, who is also the NEDA chief, was quoted as saying.