Further lockdowns may bring 'more damage to economy', says Finance chief

Warren de Guzman, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 07 2020 12:47 PM | Updated as of Oct 07 2020 01:01 PM

Neighborhood restaurants are some of the small businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Picture taken in Mandaluyong City on April 29, 2020. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA - Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said Wednesday another lockdown to contain the spread of COVID-19 could bring more damage to the economy. 

The Philippines in mid-March implemented one of the world's longest lockdowns to stem the spread of the virus. Today, Metro Manila and several areas remain under general community quarantine until Oct. 31.

Easing the restrictions enables the resumption of businesses, generating jobs and boosting economic recovery.

"The lockdowns that the government imposed in the second quarter of the year were necessary to save lives and protect communities. They enabled us to strengthen our prevention, testing, isolation, and treatment capacities," Dominguez said.

"However, further lockdowns at this time will bring more damage to the economy," he added.

Dominguez said prolonged restrictions would threaten gains in employment and poverty reduction in the past 4 years.

The coronavirus pandemic may temporarily disrupt the "significant" gains achieved by the government in terms of poverty reduction, Acting Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Chua earlier said.

In April, unemployment ballooned 17.7 percent equivalent to 7.3 million jobless Filipinos. Unemployment rate improved in July.

The Philippines also fell into recession after the second quarter gross domestic product dived 16.5 percent. Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Gov. Benjamin Diokno earlier said the 4th quarter would be much better.

To further boost recovery, the Department of Trade and Industry has allowed several industries under GCQ to operate at 100 percent capacity. Restaurant dine-in, take out and delivery were also allowed to operate 24/7.

"We need to start reopening the economy by allowing people to return to work and providing them additional modes of public transportation. While we continue the fight against COVID-19, we must not lose sight of the fact that protecting the health of the Filipino people involves more than just keeping them safe from the virus," Dominguez said.

"Without a productive economy that sustains their basic needs and the costs of healthcare, we will have limited ability to protect them from other health issues and diseases," he added.

The Department of Health (DOH) on Tuesday reported 2,093 additional COVID-19 cases, or a total of 326,833 confirmed coronavirus infections in the Philippines.