Ex-NEDA chief Pernia: 'Better coordination' needed between gov't, private sector

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 19 2020 09:59 AM | Updated as of Apr 19 2020 11:45 AM

Former Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia is shown in this file photo. ABS-CBN News

MANILA -- Former Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia said Sunday there should be "better coordination" between the government and the private sector in the fight against COVID-19.

The pandemic, which forced a lockdown of half the Philippines' 100 million people since March 17, required a "whole of society approach," said Pernia, who quit his post last Friday.

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Pernia told ANC the lockdown could be "modified" after its scheduled expiry on April 30. He said this should be accompanied by rapid and mass testing for the disease.

"What would have been better, there would have been better coordination between what the government is doing on one end and what the private sector is doing," he said.

"All these things can be coordinated, in terms of social amelioration. If there's better coordination, the impact is much larger," he said.

Philanthropy has been "rather impressive," Pernia said.

"Bayanihan to Heal as One is supposed to be the whole of society, whole of country collaboration, cooperation, working together to heal as one," he said, adding, "Before you heal as one, you have to act as one."

The Philippines biggest companies have pitched in to the COVID-19 relief, donating food and protective equipment and paying workers' salaries. Banks have also provided grace periods on loan payments and waived some fees and interest.

Pernia resigned after nearly 4 years on the job as the Philippine economy was facing a possible contraction due to lockdown that shut most businesses and required millions to stay at home.

He said the economy could contract by 1 percent in a "worse" scenario, post zero expansion, or grow by up to 2 percent.

Before he left his post, Pernia said the forward planning at NEDA was to "rebuild or promote the confidence of consumers and the business sector in the economy."

"The consumers or the public at large must have higher confidence in our health system," he said. "Our health system capacity has been caught flatfooted by the COVID crisis."