THE National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) is preparing economic policies to help the country navigate the “new normal” once the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic ends. 

“The Inter-Agency Task Force Technical Working Group for Anticipatory and Forward Planning (IATF-TWG-AFP), chaired by NEDA, is currently preparing to provide recommendations to rebuild confidence and adjust to the new normal,” Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia was quoted as saying in a statement. 

The TWG is tasked to come up with “programs and strategies to promote confidence in the country’s health systems through data analytics, recommend programs and strategies to rebuild consumer and business confidence, and recommend policies and programs to adapt to a ‘new normal,’ “NEDA said. 

In order to come up with recommendations, the NEDA is conducting an online public consultation (http://bit.ly/NewNormalConsultation) on the “new normal” until April 7, 12 noon.

Filipinos are also asked to fill out online surveys — one for business owners and another for consumers (www.dof.gov.ph/iatf-afp-msme-survey/ and www.neda.gov.ph/consumer-rapid-assessment/). 

“We in government need to understand this new normal for different sectors. This way, we can come up with policies and programs to help society adjust to the new normal,” the agency said. 

Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez said the surveys will aid the economic team in crafting a recovery plan “with a focus on helping micro, small, and medium enterprises get back on their feet once the quarantine is lifted. 

“The survey will also help the government devise fiscal and monetary strategies tailored to the needs of the business community, so government actions will keep the overall economy afloat,”‘ Mr. Dominguez told reporters via Viber message on Saturday. 

NEDA will also release two more surveys, for industry and services and for agriculture and fisheries.

“The whole of government will also be ready to adjust plans and implement the necessary interventions as the air of uncertainty is expected to remain with us for some time. We aim for these strategies to cover the most pressing issues and build from there with forward planning as our lens,” Mr. Pernia said.

The IATF-TWG-AFP is scheduled to submit a progress report to the IATF for Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases on April 7 and the final report by April 13.

The group was created through Resolution No. 16 of the IATF-Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases dated March 27. It includes the Departments of Science and Technology, Trade and Industry, Education, Health, Budget and Management, Finance, Agriculture, Tourism, and Information and Communications Technology; National Intelligence Coordinating Agency; Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas; and University of the Philippines Resilience Institute.

Luzon is currently under a month-long enhanced community quarantine until April 12, although there are indications that an extension is possible in order to further contain the COVID-19 outbreak. 

As of Sunday, the country recorded more than 3,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus. There have been 144 fatalities and 57 recoveries reported as of Saturday evening. — B.M. Laforga