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Vax rollout on right track —BSP

Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Benjamin Diokno expressed his belief over the weekend that the COVID-19 vaccination rollout of the government is on the right track, saying it is a key to strong economic recovery from the pandemic.

In a statement, Diokno said the country was getting a steady supply of vaccines from multiple sources compared to other countries that have only one or two sources.

"Second, it [the government] has shown its capacity to administer the program effectively and massively. Third, there is strong private sector support for the vaccination program," Diokno said.

"Finally, there appears to be no vaccination hesitancy on the part of the Filipinos. The success of the vaccination program is the key to a strong and sustained economic recovery. With its success, future surges in virus incidence can be avoided," Diokno said.

He also said there would be no need for lockdown measures which have proven too costly economically here and abroad. With the dwindling cases of COVID, consumer and firm confidence will get stronger and with it would come sustainable economic growth, he said.

The government is aiming to vaccinate 50 to 70 million individuals before the year ends.

Meanwhile, Albay Rep. Joey Salceda on Sunday urged the government to shift its strategy on the distribution of the vaccines against COVID-19 and make the allocation equitable.

Interviewed over Dobol B sa TV, he said the distribution of vaccines must be fair.

He said the discrepancy in vaccine distribution would have an impact on the overall achievement of herd immunity and the recharging of the economy.

“If one is not (vaccinated), like the Bicol region, Metro Manila is not safe. That would get back to you,” he added.

“I am demanding the IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force, the Department of Health and the National Task Force COVID-19), ano ba ang strategy nyo? Metro Manila will never be safe if Bicol is not safe,” he said.

Noting a discrepancy, he said the National Capital Region is at least 25% protected, while Bicol is only 1.8 percent safe, second to the last which is the BARMM.

He said Bicol is “much prepared” to handle and administer vaccination.

The economy contracted by a record 9.6 percent in 2020, the worst since World War 2, due to the pandemic. This year, the government aims for a 6-7 percent GDP growth, to be driven by vaccination rollout that could eventually reinvigorate consumer and business confidence.

Diokno, meanwhile, said legislating Bayanihan 3 now that Bayanihan 2 has lapsed will not improve the country's ratings prospects after Fitch Ratings downgraded the Philippines' outlook to negative from stable.

"The wisdom of whether the government should legislate Bayanihan 3 should be decided upon by the Legislative Department and Congress.

That is not within the mandate of the BSP," he said. Diokno said in a sea of ratings downgrades globally last year and this year, Fitch has affirmed the country's investment grade. S&P Global Ratings and Moody's Investors Service have affirmed their ratings and outlook earlier, while the Japan Credit Rating Agency has upgraded its ratings.

"That should be seen in a positive light. What needs to be done rightnow is to accelerate the vaccine rollout, pursue the structural reforms  the government was pursuing before and during the pandemic, and continue aggressively with its BBB [Build, Build, Build] program," he said.

Diokno said these measures would immensely improve the country's growth prospects and its ability to attract foreign direct investments.

He said the rationale for Bayanihan 3 fades with the submission of next year's President's Budget within a month or so. Additionally, as a result of the Supreme Court ruling, more fiscal measures will flow to LGUs starting January 2022, less than half a year from now.

"LGUs may be in a better position to address the needs of their local constituents who are affected by the pandemic. If local officials don't want to overburden their fiscal position as a result of high incidence of COVID-19 in their community, then they should exert more effort to contain the virus through strict enforcement of health protocol and more aggressive contract tracing," Diokno said.

Diokno said he sees the likelihood of stricter local lockdowns, if at all, rather than regional lockdowns to contain the further spread of the disease.

Topics: Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas , Benjamin Diokno , COVID-19 , Vaccination , Build Build Build Program
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