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BSP governor eyes ’restarting’ PH economy by mid-May or early June

Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Benjamin Diokno said the government should focus on containing the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 in April, before “restarting” the economy by mid-May or early June.

Diokno said in a message there would be an “enormous risk in restarting the economy prematurely” and that the remaining days of the enhanced community quarantine in Luzon would be critical.

“If we do things right, we should be in the process of restarting the economy by mid-May or early June,” Diokno said. He said these were his personal views and did not represent those of the Inter-Agency Task Force.

“The government should use the next 14 days in testing, identifying the persons under investigation and the persons under monitoring, and seriously separating them from the healthy population,” he said.

Diokno said a new phase (from April 15 to May 25) could follow the quarantine period (ending April 14). He said in this stage, with new data from testing serious tracing of social interactions, the ECS could be done at the barangay level.

He said under the new phase traveling by air, sea and land and inter-island movement would be restricted. Checkpoints at barangay levels would be dismantled and LRT and MRT would be allowed to run.

The government for a limited period may operate a limited fleet of buses. The buses maybe allowed to operate in Greater Metro Manila—meaning Metro Manila plus the provinces of Cavite, Bulacan, Rizal and Laguna.

He said only those with ID authorized by the IATF would be allowed to take public transport while other forms of public transport would continue to be banned.

Meanwhile, schools at all levels will remain closed and office hours will be staggered. Essential public sector workers will work from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. and essential private sector workers will work from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Malls, theaters, gyms will be closed and sports events, concerts and the like will continue to be banned.

Farming and fishery activities will continue to be allowed and manufacturing activities involving essential goods (food, drugs, exports, etc.) may resume operations, depending on which the Trade Department chooses.

“Banks and other financial institutions [like pawnshops, online payment operators like GCash or PayMaya, money transfers and the likes] should continue to function. The stock market should operate. This early, the IATF should plan on how Phase 2 would look like,” Diokno said.

He said Phase 3—that involves the restarting of the economy—should be crafted by the Expanded Economic Team headed by the National Economic and Development Authority.

Its members are the Finance Department, Budget Department, DTI, Public Works Department, Agriculture Department, Energy Department, Tourism Department, Environment Department and Housing Department.

“This early, the EET should be mobilized,” Diokno said.

Diokno was among those present in an IATF meeting early this week to discuss the direction of the country after the enhanced community quarantine in Luzon ends on April 12.

IATF was eyeing a “selective lockdown” and gradual resumption of economic activity when the lockdown ends, wary of a more damaging effect to the economy if another national lockdown happens.

Topics: Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas , BSP Governor Benjamin Diokno , Philippine economy , coronavirus disease 2019 , COVID-19
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