Philippines Must Loosen Covid Curbs More, Economic Planner Says

The Philippines should further reopen and ease mobility restrictions by next month to boost its economy that shrank by a record last year, its chief economic planner said.

The capital region, which accounts for about a third of the economy, should shift to the lowest quarantine level in March along with the rest of the country to restore jobs and ease poverty, Economic Planning Secretary Karl Chua said in a presentation for President Rodrigo Duterte Monday night. Income losses due to the lockdown have reached 1.04 trillion pesos ($21.7 billion) in 2020 or about 2.8 billion pesos a day as many businesses can’t reopen, he said.

The government must expand public transport to 75% of capacity from 50% to allow more people to return to work and gradually expand the age group of those allowed to leave their homes, Chua said.

Gross domestic product plunged 9.5% last year, the largest drop on record, based on government data going back to 1946.

The Philippines is expecting difficulties in securing shots in the first half as Western nations have already gotten bulk of the supply, vaccine czar Carlito Galvez said in the same briefing, while adding that the country can still reach its goal of inoculating up to 70 million people this year.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

BQ Install

Bloomberg Quint

Add BloombergQuint App to Home screen.