The government’s move to impose a stricter lockdown for two weeks will ensure a more “sustainable economic recovery” said the top official of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).

“If we did nothing and continued ‘yung (the general community quarantine, GCQ) while the healthcare system is in dire need of more help, then hindi po sustainable ang ating economic recovery (then our economic recovery is not sustainable),” NEDA Acting Secretary Karl Kendrick T. Chua said in an online press briefing on Friday.

“I think it’s better that we take one step back so that we can take two steps forward next time so that mas sustainable ang ating recover path (so our path to recovery is more sustainable),” Mr. Chua added.

On Aug. 4, Metro Manila and some nearby cities were shifted back to a stricter lockdown, called the modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ), until mid-August to prevent the health system from collapsing as coronavirus cases increase.

He said the two-week period gives the country more of a chance to contain the spread of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 and improve the health system, which bodes well in sustaining the economic recovery.

Mr. Chua had said the economic team already factored this in its economic impact assessment when they adjusted their forecast of a gross domestic product (GDP) of -5.5% this year from -3.4%, previously.

The Finance department said in an economic bulletin on Friday that “calibrated quarantines could be ramped up or down, as the situation may call for,” as seen in the recent tightening of quarantine rules in these key cities.

“Restoring growth will depend to a great extent on the country’s acquiring the capacity to manage the health risks posed by the virus,” it said.

The Philippine economy slumped by a record low of 16.5% in the second quarter, the lowest since 1981 when quarterly GDP data was available. This brought the first-half figure to -9%.

The country has now entered a technical recession after posting two straight quarters of contraction, the first time since 1991 — Beatrice M. Laforga