NorMin COVID-19 Taskforce to study economic effects of virus
CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, April 2 – “We are not only working on managing the short-term effects of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), but also addressing its medium and long-term impacts on the economy,” National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA)-10 Regional Director Mylah Faye Aurora B. Cariño, economy response cluster head of the Regional Interagency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (RIATF-MEID) said.
In a videoconference held by RIATF-MEID on Tuesday, March 31, the members tackled the initiatives in ensuring adequate food supply, providing social welfare benefits, and protecting economic interests during the community quarantine.
The cluster also acts in accordance with Republic Act No. 11469 or the “Bayanihan to Heal as One Act,” which requires the member-agencies to implement measures under the Social Amelioration Package for affected workers and businesses.
Regional Director Joffrey M. Suyao of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE)-10 assures the body that the agency is in full force implementing its COVID Assistance Measures Program (CAMP) and Tulong Panghanapbuhay Sa Ating Disadvantaged/ Displaced Workers (TUPAD), both providing assistance to the workers and the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) affected by the declaration of a state of calamity. As of March 30, a total of 626 applications have been evaluated covering 9,920 workers, and ten batches of grants have been submitted for processing and payment.
Department of Agriculture-Regional Field Office (DA-RFO)-10 X Regional Technical Director Carlota S. Madriaga reported that the agency is on top of its Cash Assistance for Rice Farmers and Survival and Recovery (SURE) Assistance Program. The P61.9 million current disbursed budget for cash relief catered to at least 4,121 farmers in rice-producing areas.
DA-10 also partners with the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) to provide 34 farmers’ cooperatives and associations with credit facilities. Loans released stands at P16.9 million, with recipients mostly from Bukidnon province. The agency also confirms that the 171,000 metric-ton rice inventory for March 2020 can sustain the region for the next two months.
Regional Director Linda O. Boniao of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI)-10 shared that they are preparing to roll out its program on Enterprise Rehabilitation Financing and Economic Recovery Financing, which received a national budget of P1 billion. The purpose of the program is to help the registered small businesses restart and recoup by the time the pandemic subsides. Director Boniao also reiterated that Loans Moratorium has been in place since March 16 until April 15.
Moreover, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD)-10 reported that around 23,000 prepositioned goods are safely stored in the regional Philippine Army camps, ready for distribution to identified beneficiaries of the Social Amelioration Package. Livelihood assistance of up to Php15,000 are also available for affected workers and their families, following the criteria set by the agency. Other programs include provision of financial support and burial assistance for COVID-19 casualties.
The virtual meeting was successfully conducted with several recommendations to the RIATF-MEID for the passage of resolutions requesting malls/business establishments/ building owners to waive rental fees for one month during the quarantine/lockdown period; Utilities (electricity/water/internet) to extend payment of bills for two to three months; Financial institutions/firms to extend payment period for credit card and payment/ waiver of fees during quarantine period; Banks/financial institutions for moratorium in the payment of loans; LGUs to ensure unhampered/free flow movement of goods and supplies in checkpoints across LGUs; and Businesses to continue operations with the preparation of business continuity plans.
The cluster members also agreed to commence the preparation of the economic recovery and rehabilitation plan.
Some 25 members participated in said meeting. (DRD, NEDA-X)