March 1, 2022 – The shift to alert level 1 in more parts of the country will generate an estimated PHP 9.4 billion per week of economic activity in gross value-added terms, the National Economic and Development Authority said.

During the Talk to the People of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on Monday, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick T. Chua presented the benefits of moving to alert level 1 and the Economic Development Cluster’s proposed 10-point policy agenda.

“Ang alert level 1 ay magdudulot ng benepisyo sa 62 percent ng ekonomiya, at sa halos 20.3 milyon na manggagawa o 48 percent ng total workforce ng bansa. Sa pagbaba sa alert level 1, tinatayang mababawasan ng 170,000 katao ang bilang ng unemployed sa susunod na quarter,” said Chua. [Alert level 1 will benefit 62 percent of the economy and 20.3 million workers, comprising 48 percent of our workforce. By shifting to alert level 1, we estimate 170,000 less unemployed workers over the next quarter.]

Chua added that the benefits would increase to PHP 16.5 billion of economic activity in gross value-added terms and translate to PHP 5.2 billion more in salaries per week if the whole country shifts to alert level 1. This would also result in 297,000 less unemployed workers over the next quarter.

If not for the pandemic, Chua said the size of the Philippine economy would have reached PHP 25.3 trillion in 2022. With the shift to alert level 1, the economy is expected to recover to pre-pandemic level faster.

“Nakabawi tayo sa 2021 with a 5.6 percent growth, ngunit kailangan pa natin bawiin ang nawala sa nakaraang dalawang taon na nagkakahalagang PHP 3.8 trillion. Mapapabilis ang pagbawi natin nito sa ilalim ng alert level 1,” Chua said. [We bounced back in 2021 with a 5.6 percent growth. We now have to recover the losses we experienced in the last two years amounting to PHP 3.8 trillion. The shift to alert level 1 will help close this gap faster.]

According to Chua, the shift to alert level 1 will further improve the performance of key sectors like tourism.

“The contribution of domestic tourism to the economy fell by PHP 1.5 trillion or 7.4 percent of the GDP in 2020. We can recover at least half of that or PHP 750 billion by shifting to alert level 1,” he said.

Chua also reiterated the need to reopen all schools for face-to-face learning as this will provide a big boost to the economy and improve learning and productivity.

NEDA estimates that resuming face-to-face learning will increase economic activity by around PHP 12 billion per week due to the return of services around schools such as transport, dormitories, food stalls, and school supplies stores, among others. This will also avert around PHP 11 trillion in productivity losses and improve learning outcomes by around 50 percent.

However, Chua emphasized that alert level 1 is not fully implementable if working parents need to stay home to help their children study. Resuming face-to-face learning is expected to free up the time of one-fourth of parents who skip work or reduce work time to accompany their children in home learning.

“Kahit po mag-alert level 1 na tayo, kung hindi natin bubuksan ang mga paaralan, one-fourth po ng ating mga magulang ay hindi makakapasok nang full time dahil kailangan nilang bantayan ang kanilang mga anak sa bahay para makatulong sa kanilang pag-aaral tuwing may klase,” he said. [Even if we shift to alert level 1, if schools remain closed, one-fourth of parents will not be able to work full time because they are watching over their children during classes.]

To close, Chua discussed the Economic Development Cluster’s proposed 10-point policy to accelerate and sustain economic recovery in 2022 and beyond. This covers: 1) metrics; 2) vaccination; 3) healthcare capacity; 4) economy and mobility; 5) schooling: fully open face-to-face; 6) domestic travel; 7) international travel; 8) digital transformation; 9) pandemic flexibility bill; and 10) medium-term preparation for pandemic resilience.

According to him, this agenda will help restore jobs and bring more people out of poverty.

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