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Gov't, businesses told: Set aside growth targets, focus on public health

MANILA, Philippines – Economists from the Ateneo de Manila University appealed to both the government and the private sector to "set aside growth targets" and revenue goals this year and focus on addressing the socioeconomic needs of people amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.

"Economic stimulus to induce economic growth is not useful at this stage of the pandemic," the Ateneo Center for Economic Research and Development and faculty members of the Ateneo Department of Economics said in a joint statement.

They recommended the reallocation of significant portions of the 2020 national budget to health and medical services, full protection of health workers, providing social protection to the poor, and efforts to address the economic and social costs of the Luzon-wide lockdown.

"In addition, there is still a large unused budget for 2019 with an unobligated P1.1 trillion. Based on [Republic Act No.] 11464, funds in 2019 are allowed to be used in 2020 hence this can also be reallocated to fund these tasks," the economists said. (WATCH: Rappler Talk: Saving the economy from a pandemic)

For the private sector, they asked for the top 30 companies in the Philippines to contribute P1 billion each.

The following are some of their other recommendations to government and the private sector:

The Philippines' confirmed coronavirus cases stood at 501 as of Tuesday morning, March 24. At least 33 have died. – Rappler.com

Ralf Rivas

A sociologist by heart, a journalist by profession. Ralf is Rappler's business reporter, covering macroeconomy, government finance, companies, and agriculture.

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