Lockdown easing restarts 75 percent of economy: NEDA's Chua

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 11 2020 03:08 PM | Updated as of Jun 11 2020 03:24 PM

Commuters wait for a ride along Commonwealth Ave on June 1, 2020, the start of the general community quarantine in Metro Manila. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA -- President Rodrigo Duterte's chief economic planner said Thursday easing virus restrictions reopened up to 75 percent the economy, which is expected to shrink further in the second quarter.

Only a quarter of the economy, comprised of tourism and leisure activities, remains closed since the transition to general community quarantine (GCQ) and modified GCQ last June 1, acting Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Chua said.

On Thursday, the government said restaurants can allow dine-in customers for up to 30 percent capacity. Salons and barber shops also recently reopened after nearly 3 months.

"Bumabalik na po towards normalcy ang ating ekonomiya," 
(Our economy is returning to normalcy)," Chua said.

Lockdowns that started on March 17, forced millions to stay at home, shutting businesses, except hospitals and those involved in food and medicine.

The economy shrank by 0.2 percent in the quarter ended March and unemployment soared to a record 17.7 percent in April, padding the number of jobless Filipinos to 7.3 million.

Chua said the shutdown of most businesses from April to May would result in a further contraction of the gross domestic product.

Asked about the second quarter GDP, Chua said it would "look really bad" because the ECQ or enhanced community quarantine shuttered 75 percent of the economy.

"Ang ating GDP projection for the second quarter will be worse than the first quarter (Our projection for the second quarter will be worse than the first quarter)," Chua said.

Reviving the economy rests on the implementation of government's rescue measures and controlling the spread of the virus to avoid another strict lockdown, he said.

"Yung ating recovery is very uncertain pero pwede po natin gawing mas klaro yung direction kung... government will proactively implement the recovery program," he said.

(Our recovery is very uncertain but we can make the direction clearer if the government will proactively implement the reocovery program)

"Yung mas importante (What's more important) is the cooperation of the entire nation," he added.

Chua previously said that an economic recovery plan was being worked out to put the Philippines "back on track" to pre-pandemic levels.