NEDA urges government to implement measures in three phases to mitigate effects of COVID-19
CEBU CITY—The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) has suggested the implementation of mitigating measures to address the adverse effects of COVID-19 outbreak on the country’s economy.
Concerns over coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) affecting tourism and travel activities in the country could dampen production of consumer-related goods such as food and beverages, NEDA had noted in an emailed news release.
“Intensifying government’s actions to monitor and implement mitigating measures will temper the potential negative impact of the COVID-2019 on the manufacturing industry,” said Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia.
NEDA suggested three phases of government measures – Respond for phase 1; Recover for phase 2 and Rehabilitate for the last phase.
Under the first phase, the government has to focus more on public health measures to minimize the duration and contain the spread of the virus by ensuring strategic placement of adequate facilities to be used for quarantine and implementing health and wellness programs for the entire population.
However, the government also needs to come up with steps to counter the adverse impact of COVID-19 on businesses such as relaxing some regulations for those affected by the epidemic; preparing for the rebound, and tapping financing programs.
“In consultation with the private sector, the government should ease implementation of some regulations that will allow firms to manage costs and provide financing or loan restructuring to micro and small enterprises whose operations may have already been affected,” said Pernia.
Also, during the first phase, the government has to use programs to provide unemployment and sickness benefits, emergency employment and re-employment as well as build up an inventory of strategic commodities such as medical supplies, essential medicines, and food, among others.
Phase two measures would aim to restore confidence in the Philippine economy once it would be safe for people to resume normal activities.
During the second phase, the government has to promote domestic tourism, provide retooling training and lead in Meetings, Incentives, Conventions, and Entertainment (MICE) activities outside the National Capital Region to motivate travel and consumption spending.
In the last phase, the country has to ensure it is better prepared for the next epidemic through strategic investments in the medical field.
According to NEDA, the government has to encourage strategic investments in the medical field; procure essential vaccines; establish a network similar to the Center for Disease Control in the United States; and develop human resources for health who are trained to handle infectious diseases, such as microbiologists and chemists.
NEDA also urges the government to promote a healthy lifestyle, proper hygiene starting with government officials and government establishments.
To boost the country’s economy, the government has to spur manufacturing activities to reduce reliance on overseas suppliers; fast-track the passage of the legislative agenda to ease foreign ownership restrictions; and intensify the implementation of the Ease of Doing Business and Efficient Government Service Act, among other measures.
“In the longer term, emphasis must be placed on developing backward and forward linkages that will encourage production of raw materials and intermediate inputs – as well as onward processing to finished products – in the domestic market to reduce reliance on foreign suppliers,” Pernia said. /rcg
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