Industry players seek changes in strategies for PH to emerge from COVID-19 crisis | Inquirer News
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Industry players seek changes in strategies for PH to emerge from COVID-19 crisis

/ 11:54 PM July 01, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Several of the country’s industry leaders and players have sought changes in the government’s policies and strategies in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, as they believe that the country can actually do better and usher in economic recovery faster.

During an online forum hosted by think-tank group Stratbase Albert del Rosario Institute (ADRi), the participants were united in noting that there are ways to strengthen the country’s competitiveness even with the COVID-19 problem at hand — as seen in other countries’ response.

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According to former Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas deputy governor for monetary and economics sector Diwa Guinigundo, a new approach towards the pandemic is needed so that the country can do away with slow processes that bear down the country’s economy.

“A number of organizations suffer from slow procedures, complex bureaucracies, and rigid hierarchies. The coronavirus has forced us to break through this rigid system and act nimbly to solve pressing issues,” Guinigundo said in his keynote address.

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“A green and inclusive recovery will significantly enhance the resilience of our economies and societies in the face of both the severe recession and accelerating environment challenges,” he added.

Christian Martin Gonzalez — executive vice president of the International Container Terminal Services, Inc. (ICTSI) — also stressed during the forum that the government is being challenged to achieve herd immunity and kickstart the economy again.

A lot of experts from both the government and the private sector believe that the economy would recover if the country achieves herd immunity through vaccinations, as normal activities would resurrect industries hard-hit by the pandemic.

But Gonzales emphasized that herd immunity — a goal where 70 percent of the population are immunized against COVID-19 — does not have to be taken on a national level immediately, but on a regional basis.

“When we look at herd immunity, we need to look at it not on a broader national level, but in different regions,” he explained.

“You have a number of cities in NCR, if they continue the way they are going now and add private vaccine centers, these cities in NCR can hit herd immunity in September or October,” he added.

A recent study by Bloomberg showed that the Philippines ranked second to the last out of 53 countries surveyed in terms of COVID-19 resilience.

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The Philippines’ 45.3 score only bested Argentina, which got a score of 37.  The Southeast Asian country also has a slightly worse score compared to India, which recently endured a record-breaking surge that saw over 300,000 individuals infected daily in April.

According to the study, “India, the Philippines and some Latin America countries rank lowest amid a perfect storm of variant-driven outbreaks, slow vaccination, and global isolation”.

In terms of the economy, the Philippines just registered its worst gross domestic product shrinkage, as the economy contracted by 9.5 percent in 2020 — the worst numbers since statisticians recorded GDP numbers.

As of now, COVID-19 vaccinations in the country are picking up steam, with government agencies announcing that 1.6 million doses have been administered during the past week, or from June 20 to 26.

This brings the total number of doses given to 10,065,414 as of June 27 — of which 2.527 million individuals are fully vaccinated.

However, there are also observers who have commented that the country can do better and vaccinate more individuals, especially considering that it has started its COVID-19 vaccine rollout as early as March 2021.

Even known allies of the administration like Senate President Vicente Sotto, who said that the country’s vaccination pace is not the worst, admitted that there are several things that the government can improve on.

But aside from ushering in herd imunity, Rizalina Mantaring who chairs the Management Association of the Philippines’s committee on national issues noted that the country’s leaders must also exude transparency, so that the people would trust them instead of being anxious over the country’s situation.

“The most essential element of crisis leadership is clear and trustworthy communication. People have to believe that their leaders are transparent, honest, understand their situations, and can empathize with them,” Mantaring said.

“We need to change our orientation from maximizing profit to building a thriving and prosperous society in order to build that much bigger pie of the consumers of the future. As the saying goes, in a rising tide, all boats rise,” she added.

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TAGS: ADRi, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, COVID-19 response, COVID-19 Vaccines, Diwa Guinigundo, economic recovery, government policy, herd immunity, industry leaders, Philippine news updates, Stratbase Albert del Rosario Institute
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