The government should accelerate the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines to jumpstart economic recovery, a executive of BDO Unibank Inc., the country’s largest lender, said.
“The pandemic is a public health issue, and so everybody wants to reopen the economy. Everybody wants to get back to normal. But the main issue is controlling the COVID spread and accelerating the vaccine rollout. Unless we’re able to do these two top of mind and priority issues, then all of our dreams of getting back to normal will remain just a dream,” BDO Unibank chief investment officer Frederico Rafael Ocampo said in a recent television interview over CNN Philippines.
“What we have learned during the past year is when you have prolonged mobility restrictions, especially when you have a total lockdown of the economy, it just creates a lot of unemployed people and we tend to worsen the problem,” he said.
“We have to contain COVID and we have to accelerate the delivery of vaccines and start rolling them out in a more aggressive way. The sooner we do that, then the better it will be for our recovery, our reopening of the Philippine economy,” Ocampo said.
According to OCTA Research, the number of COVID-19 cases is expected to continue to surge for the next couple of weeks despite the Interagency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases’ decision to place NCR Plus (Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal) under a community quarantine bubble.
Under the ECQ bubble, travel to and from Metro Manila and the four adjacent provinces is not allowed unless deemed as essential.
The government decided to extend the enhanced community quarantine in the NCR-Plus bubble for another week starting April 5 to prevent the further spread of the disease.
Ocampo said to help jumpstart the economy, the recovery of micro, small and medium enterprises should be one of the priorities.
“The proposed ARISE [Accelerated Recovery and Investments Stimulus for the Economy of the Philippines] bill is still on the back burner. The longer we prolong the pain of the MSMEs, the more people will lose their jobs. The scarring could be permanent,” he said. Julito G. Rada
The ARISE Bill, passed by the House of Representatives in third and final reading last year, seeks to extend support to micro, small, and medium enterprises and other sectors affected by the pandemic.
The Philippines logged 11,028 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, bringing the tally to 795,051.
Last year, the economy contracted by a record 9.5 percent, the worst since the end of World War 2 because of to the adverse impact of the pandemic and the accompanying border restrictions.