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Ramp up

The International Monetary Fund emphasized the need for the Philippines to ramp up mass vaccination to revive private consumption alongside increasing public infrastructure spending in order to recover from the pandemic-induced economic slump.

IMF Asia and Pacific department director Changyong Rhee said last year’s lockdowns hurt the Philippines more than other economies in the region due to its heavy reliance on tourism and many contact-intensive service sectors.

“At this moment, what we are worried about is that the Philippines’ vaccination rate is still around 25 percent – that seems to be low. In order to have a more sound and stronger demand, I think the vaccination pace must be the first priority,” Rhee said.

“Unless you have a higher number of the people vaccinated, you cannot truly maintain the containment policy because the economic impact could be very serious,” he added.

If the Philippines can accelerate mass inoculation and contain the more infectious Delta variant of COVID-19, the downgraded IMF growth forecast could possibly be revised.  Rhee is also hopeful the country could return to its prepandemic economic trend of 6-7 percent yearly growth rate with the help of its “Build Build Build” infrastructure program.

The country’s economy is still struggling and while vaccination rates have been decent in the National Capital Region, the rest of the country is not as fortunate. The areas that can achieve herd immunity earlier might have a head start in the race to recovery but if other parts of the country are lagging and remain COVID-19 hotspots due to poor immunization efforts, everyone will still be dragged behind due to our dependence on tourism and contact-intensive sectors.

With Negros Occidental already looking at achieving herd immunity by early 2022, Negrenses are among the fortunate ones in the country. Let us cooperate as government works towards this goal so we can finally focus on economic recovery from this crippling pandemic.*

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