LOCAL business groups have expressed support for a two-week strict lockdown in order to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 Delta variant.

- B C U. O @caiordinar­io

Socioecono­mic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick T. Chua told reporters on Wednesday that the risks from the Delta variant are higher and it is important for the country to manage these risks.

e business groups believe that while the two-week strict lockdown may turn economic growth negative, it will ensure better growth in the last quarter of the year if it is successful in being what some experts call a “circuit breaker” in a surge of infections.

“is sacrifice shall help ensure stronger, safer Philippine economic recovery for fourth quarter 2021, which is traditiona­lly the best time for businesses in the year,” the business groups said in a statement.

“[However], before the twoweek lockdown in August, there should be at least one week of preparatio­n which shall perhaps be in the first week of August,”

they added.

Chua said the primary response of the government is to manage the risks by ensuring a faster vaccinatio­n rate as well as limiting stringent lockdowns in local areas or sectors of highest risk.

is, Chua said, will allow the rest of the people, especially those already vaccinated, to earn a living. He said the March-april lockdown is a good guide for the government’s response to the lockdown.

No estimates yet

MEANWHILE, Chua said he could not yet provide estimates of how much a two-week stringent lockdown will affect the economy.

Further, any adjustment­s to growth expectatio­ns will have to wait until the second quarter growth estimates are released.

“On the type of quarantine, [we need to see the analysis of] both economic and health sides before we make a recommenda­tion,” Chua said. “[In terms of targets], I’d rather wait till August 10 [for the] release [of second quarter numbers] before we revisit the targets in light of recent developmen­ts.”

’Ghost Month’

PRESIDENTI­AL Adviser on Entreprene­urship Secretary Joey Concepcion said August would be the best time to impose a two-week strict lockdown because it is the “Ghost Month.”

Concepcion said the Chinese belief and traditions about Ghost Month often prevent businessme­n from making any business deals.

Other key business leaders agreed with Concepcion: Philippine Chamber of Commerce & Industry (PCCI) and Exporters Confederat­ion of the Philippine­s (Philexport) Chairman George Barcelon; and Federation of Filipino Chinese Chambers of Commerce & Industry Inc. (FFCCCII) President Dr. Henry Lim Bon Liong.

ey said this will enable the government to reopen the Philippine economy in the fourth quarter and ensure that 2022 will be a year of fast, sustainabl­e economic growth.

Bon Liong believes the country’s economic growth would reach 7 percent to 8 percent this year and accelerate to 8 percent to 9 percent next year.

“[ is will be possible] if we unite, cooperate, if government reforms and vaccinatio­ns continue, if we the business sector keep faith, persevere, invest more,” he said. “I foresee global economic recovery and our Philippine election season to boost economic recovery, especially this second half of 2021.”

Apart from the lockdown, Concepcion said vaccinatio­ns have continued to accelerate and this will ensure that the economy grows at a faster rate.

Vaccines expected

CONCEPCION said Gonegosyo-led Astrazenec­a vaccines for various business groups have arrived while Moderna vaccines are expected in the third quarter.

He added the FFCCCII will complete in August its ongoing inoculatio­n with 500,000 Sinovac vaccines nationwide.

Further, Bon Liong said the recovery of the United States and Chinese economies will also boost Philippine economic growth. Both countries are considered the country’s top trade partners.

With the Regional Comprehens­ive Economic Partnershi­p (RCEP) agreement in place, the regional economy will remain vibrant in the months to come.

He noted that RCEP is the world’s biggest free trade zone which held opportunit­ies for the Philippine­s. e RCEP was signed by the 10 Asean member-states, as well as Australia, China, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand.

Aside from this, there is the Belt and Road Initiative or BRI led by China, including the Beijing-led Asian Infrastruc­ture Investment Bank or AIIB. Bon Liong said the BRI complement­s the Philippine­s’s Build, Build, Build program.

 ?? NONIE REYES ?? HIDILYN DIAZ flies home to a grateful nation on Wednesday, arriving at NAIA Terminal 2 on a PAL flight from Tokyo.
NONIE REYES HIDILYN DIAZ flies home to a grateful nation on Wednesday, arriving at NAIA Terminal 2 on a PAL flight from Tokyo.
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