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COVID-19 WATCH

Business group: No to ECQ extension, yes to aggressive vaccine rollout

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The National Capital Region-wide lockdown currently in effect to slow down the spread of the more dangerous Covid-19 Delta variant has badly affected the domestic economy — that the business sector urged the Duterte administration to look for alternative ways to fight the virus.

Ed Lacson, acting president and vice president of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), suggested an aggressive vaccination initiative, rather than an extension of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), as a better means to deal with the pandemic.

“I don’t know which sector is suggesting the lockdown extension. From the business sector, not one among us wants it because it creates a huge impact on commerce,” Lacson said in an interview on Daily Tribune’s online morning show Gising Na!

“It is just common sense that businesses do not want movement restrictions. But we are law-abiding citizens, and if it is mandated by law, then we will comply,” he added.

But the PCCI is asking government policymakers to look for ways to control the spread of the virus by enforcing strict health protocols and an aggressive vaccination rollout. “That is our primary suggestion to the government,” said Lacson.

He expressed worry that the double-digit economic gains in the second quarter would fall again if the lockdown is extended.

Last week, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) expanded by 11.8 percent in the second quarter of 2021, officially ending the nation’s recession.

Lacson stressed it is harder to forecast the vagaries of “overreacting” government lockdown policies than the changing dynamics of today’s economy.

Financial services company Moody’s Analytics said the Philippines would be among the last countries in Asia to return to pre-pandemic economic levels due to “slow” vaccine rollout.

Lacson likewise asked government to give tax breaks to businesses, especially to small and medium scale enterprises.

The ECQ in the capital region bubble ends on 20 August, but there is talk of an extension due to the steady rise in Covid cases.

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