Infrastructure can lead calibrated lockdown lifting: business group


Posted at Apr 16 2020 10:03 AM | Updated as of Apr 16 2020 10:13 AM

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MANILA -- Infrastructure projects and road works can resume under a calibrated lifting of the Philippines' coronavirus lockdown, the head of one of the country's largest business groups said Thursday.

The government needs to "strike a balance that is tolerable" between the health of the population and the health of the economy, PCCI President Benedicto Yujuico told ANC.

Construction projects where physical distancing can be observed can resume now, which will also revive jobs for blue collar workers, Yujuico said.

"The ECQ (enhanced community quarantine) is a non-binary function. The choice is not limited to zero or one. There are activities in between that can be implemented," he said.

"What we need to do is have a compromise between the health of the population and he health of the economy, strike a balance that is tolerable," he said.

The ECQ or lockdown of Luzon, home to half the Philippines' 100 million people started on March 17 and was extended until April 30.

The government can "calibrate" the lifting of the lockdown based on geography, population size and extent of testing, Yujuico said.

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The reopening of the world's economies rests on the extent of coronavirus testing, said Axicorp chief global strategist Stephen Innes.

"We need to test more of our population in order to get conclusive results and avoid crippling second wave," he said.

"They have to be very, very careful they're walking on an extremely thin line, Innes said.

In the Philippines, reopening public transport will be a challenge, said the PCCI's Yujuico.

Companies should provide face masks and disinfectants to employees, he said.

Asked about the extent of the projected economic slowdown due to the pandemic, Yujuico said: "I don't see the bottom yet. We are in unchartered territory here."

Until a vaccine or a cure is found, "we cant go back to where we were before," he said.