• Melo Acuna

Proposed measures to bring economy back to its feet, says Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Chua

Government priority was to save lives, says Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Chua

MANILA – Acting Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendric Chua said the government made a “very difficult decision” where a large part of the economy was placed under enhanced community quarantine.

“This decision is worth the lives saved. It prevented an estimated 1.3 to 3.5 million cases, of which an estimated 68,000 severe and critical cases at the peak day would have overwhelmed our healthcare system,” Chua said in his remarks at the Development Budget Coordinating Committee Meeting and Press Conference immediately after the Philippine Statistics Authority announced the GDP performance for the Second Quarter.

He added some 59,000 to 171,000 lives were saved but such a decision resulted at a great cost to the economy as the ECQ shutdown 75 percent of the economy.

Acting Secretary Chua said he and his fellow economic managers are aware of the sudden but unexpected dip to -16.5% in the country’s GDP for the second quarter. He said the government has ramped up spending to protect some 18 million low-income households and 3.1 million workers from small businesses or a total of about 85% of households with the biggest ever income support and wage subsidy program.

Such a program resulted in high government spending which grew by 22 per cent in the second quarter.

Secretary Chua said some P655 billion were allocated to support the people and the healthcare system under Pillar 1 and Pillar 2. He added the government already disbursed P400 billion have been disbursed.

From a total ban on infrastructure projects, public construction returned to normal last June. The Duterte Administration, according to the statement, public construction contracted by 0.9 percent. About 264 projects implemented by the DPWH, DOTr, and BCDA all returned to work last June at an accelerated pace.

He said on the supply side, agriculture grew by 1.6 percent, which was considered roughly in line with population growth. Rice production, according to Secretary Chua, grew by 7.2 percent with the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund under the Rice Tarifficaiton Law is accelerated.

“While the decline in GDP is huge, we are beginning to see signs of recovery. Manufacturing production, exports, and imports have taken a U-turn as the pace of decline slows,” he further said.

He expressed his gratitude for those who continuously looked for solutions from social workers to volunteers who brought relief goods and subsidies to the people to employers who provided support to their workers and kept them safe and even those who opted to stay home to keep the virus from spreading.

He said the government will continue in its efforts to bring the economy back to its feet. (Melo M. Acuña)

Acting Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendric Chua. (Screen grab from DBCC Meeting and Press Conference)

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