MANILA, Philippines — Presidential adviser for entrepreneurship and Go Negosyo founder Joey Concepcion yesterday stressed the importance of the partnership between private and public sectors for the sustainable reopening of the economy.

“What we want to see moving forward is we continue to maintain the opening of the economy on a more sustainable basis. Yes, we are threatened by a new variant Omicron and we will prepare for that,” Concepcion said at the Arangkada forum.

“What is important is that our partnership with the IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force) has worked. Our dialogues with the government have worked. They have the trust in the private sector,” he said.

He recalled in August when the private sector urged a lockdown to ensure businesses would be able to recover their losses in the fourth quarter of the year.

“When we called for a lockdown on Aug. 8 that was a very bold move that we did. It was not a popular decision to lock down the economy, but we had to do so to be able to save the fourth quarter. And with that initiative and with the guidance of Octa Research providing that guidance, I think we did the right thing,” Concepcion said.

“We now see cases dramatically drop to record lows, which we’ve never seen before,” he added.

Meanwhile, Concepcion also emphasized the importance of the vaccination rollout to be able to maintain the opening of the economy.

He expressed gratitude to the Joint Foreign Chambers of the Philippines for supporting the initiative of purchasing vaccines.

“The teamwork between the private sector and the public sector is really key in paving the way for us to save the economy and save lives. Without their support, we would have not reached this level today,” Concepcion said.

Economic recovery

Meanwhile, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said the country’s economic recovery is likely to continue if the Omicron COVID-19 variant is proven mild.

Lopez said the impact of the new variant is still being studied, adding that even health experts are not yet aware if it is stronger and more transmissible compared to previous variants.

“Based on readings, even from South Africa where it originated, it is said to be an unusual kind and mild so far,” he said in Filipino.

In an update over the weekend, the World Health Organization said researchers in South Africa and around the world are still conducting studies to better understand the new variant. – Mayen Jaymalin