Priority support for essential goods production a must: NEDA

MANILA – The government needs to prioritize support for the production of essential goods and personal protective equipment during the country’s fight against the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19), the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said.
The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) Tuesday reported in its Monthly Integrated Survey of Selected Industries (MISSI) that the total manufacturing index moderately improved in February 2020.
Year-on-year Volume of Production Index expanded by 3.0 percent, an improvement from a 9.3-percent decline last year, and Value of Production Index, despite down by 1.8 percent, trended upwards relative to the 6.2-percent drop recorded in February 2019.
“For March, we expect that the enhanced community quarantine has weighed heavily on the domestic demand on manufacturing products. Strategies to help the manufacturing establishments affected by the outbreak have to be put in place,” Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia said in a statement.
NEDA expects that manufactured goods that will likely increase in production in the coming months are food, beverages, chemical products, and health-related manufactures.
“We need a regular review of rules or limitations imposed due to the health crisis. It is crucial to avoid delimiting production and distribution capacity. This is to ensure that there is enough supply of food and other essentials since these are vital for the communities affected by Covid-19,” he added.
Pernia also said that identifying sources of supply of raw materials and ensuring that the supply and distribution chain remain unhampered are key elements to ensure sustained production and distribution of essential goods and services.
“We also expect that the global supply chain disruptions brought by the pandemic will have a negative effect on the manufacturing and merchandise exports,” the Cabinet official said.
The impact of Covid-19 on other countries is also expected to be felt in the Philippines via tourism, aviation, trade, and overseas Filipino workers’ remittances.
“The economy should be able to quickly adapt to and thrive under the new normal. Utilizing digital platforms is crucial in optimizing production and distribution of goods and services. Business continuity plans must also be formulated, particularly for the most vulnerable micro, small and medium enterprises.” Pernia added.
To help the various sectors adjust to the “new normal,” the Inter-agency Task Force Technical Working Group for Anticipatory and Forward Planning, chaired by NEDA, is discussing recommendations and possible interventions.
The group has conducted surveys for business owners, consumers, and agriculture and fisheries sector. A public consultation on the “new normal” has also been opened.
A report of the group will serve as a blueprint for a whole-of-government-cum-private sector effort for the country's recovery and rehabilitation.
MISSI is a report that monitors the production, net sales, inventories, and capacity utilization of selected manufacturing establishments to provide flash indicators on the performance of the manufacturing sector. (PR)