UNEMPLOYMENT RATE TO EASE: Company closures fall, MGCQ pushed

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    Just another day. Safety officers wearing face masks and face shields tend to their posts at an MRT station before letting passengers board the trains. (PHOTO by RHOY COBILLA)

    The number of micro, small enterprises that have closed down due to the new coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has drastically gone down since the lockdown and the head of Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) believes Metro can now move to looser quarantine.

    In his speech at the Franchise Asia conference yesterday, Secretary Ramon Lopez said a survey on 2,000 micro and small enterprises showed closures fell 6 percent in August to September from 38 percent in April to May, the height of the enhanced community quarantine. This was also lower than the 11 percent in June to July when the economy started to reopen.

    Lopez is also optimistic the country will go back to pre-pandemic unemployment rate level of 5.1 percent before yearend.

    “ We’re seeing our unemployment rate going down from the worst rate of 17.7 percent last April to 10 percent in July,” Lopez said.

    With nine days remaining of the existing general community quarantine (GCQ), Lopez believes the country can now go to a more relaxed modified GCQ provided Filipinos strictly follow the so-called 7 commandments: wearing of face masks, wearning of face shields, washing of hands, no talking while eating, especially while in public transportation; allow for more ventilation; keep physical distance; and frequent disinfection; and no symptomatic, which is similar to isolating the positives.

    Lopez said the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Diseases will look at the data in deciding whether or not to switch to MGCQ.

    “After six months of the pandemic and lockdown, I believe we learned how to move to manage the virus…

    I believe in my personal opinion, we can go to a more relaxed community quarantine. What’s important is to have discipline to lower the transmission even under MCGQ… to allow us to open the economy more,” Lopez said.

    He said over 50 percent of the economy is under MGCQ with just about seven areas under either GCQ or MECQ.

    The DTI, he added, is espousing the continued reopening of the economy as this is important so that more MSMEs will be able to restart their businesses, and more of our people will be able to start work and earn their income again.
    “Bringing back jobs will likewise revive consumer confidence, which we need to revive the economy,” Lopez said.

    “We’re seeing our unemployment rate going down from the worst rate of 17.7 percent last April to 10 percent in July. The Philippines’ manufacturing PMI climbed back closer to the benchmark 50 index, up to 49.7 in June. Our output Index has been climbing from 10.2 last April to 51.1 last June,” Lopez said. (I. Isip)