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Balanced economy, well-being eyed

The government must strike a fine balance between economic security and well-being until a lifesaving breakthrough is found to end the ongoing global health crisis, the Department of Finance (DOF) said yesterday.

In a statement, Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III admitted that even with government’s best efforts to protect lives and livelihoods, the Philippines, like almost every other pandemic-stricken economy in the world, has “taken a serious hit.”

Dominguez said the 11-week strict lockdown between mid-March and June, which was intended to improve the local healthcare system, had severely affected the economy resulting in a record 16.5 percent contraction in the second-quarter.

The finance chief also said the return of Metro Manila and nearly provides to modified enhanced community quarantine from August 4 to 18 is another one step back for the economy recovering from a recession.

For this reason, Dominguez said the government should step up in carrying out the “difficult balancing act” of saving as many lives as possible from the coronavirus pandemic with as little damage to the economy as possible.

Likewise, Dominguez said the public should learn how to dance with COVID-19 as the virus is emerging to stay longer and the vaccine is taking sometime to be developed.

 “The government was fully aware that the President’s imperative on putting primacy on saving human lives would come at a heavy price,” he admitted, but the finance chief vowed that they “will redouble our efforts to protect our economic gains.”

 “It is doing its utmost to protect lives in ways that do not prevent Filipinos from earning a living,” Dominguez said. “Every effort is also being exerted to ensure that we restore consumer and business confidence.”

But the finance chief also said the government needs help from private sector to intensify efforts to “solidify the country’s return to the path of inclusive growth” and win the twin battles against health and economic crises.

Despite grim economic consequences of COVID-19 pandemic, Dominguez said that signs of recovery are now starting to emerge, an indication that “we are beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel.”

Among the signs of economic recovery cited by Dominguez were slower declines of trade data indicators as well as improving tax collections of the Bureau of Internal Revenue and Bureau of Customs.

 “Even as we navigate through very difficult circumstances, we intend to maintain fiscal discipline, make our financial sector more inclusive, and introduce more reforms that will help us consolidate a pro-business environment,” Dominguez said.  

Source: Manila Bulletin (

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