By Adrian Paul B. Conoza
Special Features Writer, BusinessWorld
The crisis caused by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has drastically altered economic activity both globally and locally that the country’s economic planning office expect things to go back to a “new normal”.
As the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) braces for the long-term impacts brought about by COVID-19, it is now exerting its efforts to help the country respond to this public health crisis, rebuild confidence, and redefine the “new normal” the economy will resume in.
NEDA’s report on the impact of the pandemic published last March 19 assessed that the Philippine economy could contract by as much as 0.6% this year. It estimates that the month-long enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) could cost between P428.7 billion to P1.355.6 trillion in foregone gross value added (GVA), with significant losses in transport and tourism, household consumption, exports, and remittances.
In response to these projected outcomes, NEDA plans to implement measures based on three phases. The first one involves clinical/medical response, public health response, and short-term augmentation of the health system. The next phase focuses on rebuilding consumer and business confidence. The third phase involves redefining and resuming a “new normal state of economic activity that is more prepared for a possible pandemic”.
Chaired by NEDA, the Technical Working Group for Anticipatory and Forward Planning (TWG-AFP) of the Inter-agency Task Force for Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases is taking the lead in identifying policies to help the country’s economy adjust to this “new normal”.
“As this pandemic affects various sectors, it is important for us to be able to characterize what this new normal would mean to each and every segment of the population. We are currently crowdsourcing for inputs on how the whole of government can address the challenges the country is facing,” Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia said in a statement.
Part of the group’s crowdsourcing efforts is conducting online surveys for different sectors such as consumers, business owners, agriculture and fisheries. The public and other concerned citizens are encouraged to answer the surveys which can be accessed either at www.neda.gov.ph or at NEDA’s Facebook page.
The Online Public Consultation on Defining and Preparing for the “New Normal” and Consumer Rapid Assessment surveys are targeted at consumers.
The Online Public Consultation asks respondents on their perception of the new normal after the pandemic as well as suggestions for the next steps the government should take (i.e., policies, strategies, laws). Interested participants are encouraged to answer before 12:00 noon on April 7, Tuesday.
The Consumer Rapid Assessment, meanwhile, asks participants about their personal situation as well as that of their families before and during the ECQ in terms of accessing goods and services as well as coping with meeting such needs, among other factors.
Both surveys are available in English and Filipino.
The TWG-AFP is also conducting a separate survey for micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in order to understand the experiences and needs of business owners under ECQ. It asks business owners about the status and financial situation of their businesses, as well as the impact of the pandemic on their company’s sales and employment, among others.
“Your inputs to this survey will enable us to recommend appropriate policies and programs to mitigate loss and help the Philippine economy recover,” the online survey assured.
This survey for MSMEs is available in English, Tagalog, and Bisaya; and can be answered as well until April 7, Tuesday, at 12:00 noon.
In order to assess the impact of COVID-19 and the ECQ on farmers and fisherfolk, an online business rapid assessment for the agriculture and fisheries sector seeks to get responses which will guide the development of appropriate policy measures and support programs that will help citizens under the sector cope with the impacts of ECQ and continue their activities and livelihood. The survey have English and Filipino versions.
NEDA assures the public that in accordance with the Data Privacy Act of 2012, responses from participants of these surveys will be treated with utmost confidentiality.