A TOP executive of BDO Unibank said the government must accelerate vaccine rollout to help jumpstart a laggard economy.
According to Frederico Rafael Ocampo, chief investment officer of BDO Unibank, the vaccine rollout should be accelerated as the government extended the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in the so-called NCR Plus bubble for one more week until April 11 to slow down the spread of Covid-19.
“It is imperative that these two things be implemented for things to get back to normal,” Ocampo said.
“Everybody wants to get back to normal. But, the main issue is controlling the Covid-19 spread and accelerating the vaccine rollout,” he added.
Ocampo said total lockdown of the economy only worsens the problem as people lose jobs just like what happened in 2020.
He also lamented the unenviable task facing the government right now amid the continuous surge of Covid-19 cases.
“We have to contain Covid-19 and we have to accelerate the delivery of vaccines and start rolling them out in a more aggressive way. The sooner we do that, then the better it will be for our recovery, our reopening of the Philippine economy,” Ocampo said.
Under the ECQ bubble, travel to and from Metro Manila and the four adjacent provinces, namely, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal, is not allowed unless deemed as essential.
These areas were also placed under a 6PM-5AM curfew except for food deliveries and other essential items. With these restrictions, the government hopes this will result to lesser increase in Covid-19 cases.
To help jumpstart the economy, Ocampo opined the recovery of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) must likewise be one of the priorities.
"The proposed Arise (Accelerated Recovery and Investments Stimulus for the Economy of the Philippines) bill is still on the back burner. The longer we prolong the pain of the MSMEs, the more people will lose their jobs. The scarring could be permanent," he said.
The Arise Bill, passed by the House of Representatives in the third and final reading last year, seeks to extend support to micro, small, and medium enterprises and other sectors affected by the pandemic
"We cannot talk yet of how they (MSMEs) are rebuilding because they're still in pain. More and more companies have declared downsizing this late in the game. They need assistance and they need it now. If we assist them, they'll hire their old workers back again. And these workers will consume, and that's what we need. We are a service-driven economy," Ocampo added.