Social distancing relaxation greatest economic stimulus: VCCI

By Pham Van   April 24, 2020 | 12:11 am PT
Gradual 'lockdown ease' will help businesses restart, even without financial 'ventilators', says Vu Tien Loc, chairman of Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

"Vietnam is one of the few countries that have controlled Covid-19 well, thus having the condition to abolish early social distancing to reboot the economy," Loc said.

The country has a golden opportunity to exit the economic downturn caused by the pandemic by opening the domestic market following containment of Covid-19, he added.

Loc noted that the prohibition or restriction of goods circulation, restaurants, shops and transport would interrupt supply chains, even when factories and construction sites remain in operation.

Vu Tien Loc, VCCIs chairman.

Vu Tien Loc, VCCI's chairman.

The opportunity cost of implementing social distancing is huge with heavy economic consequences. "It's now time to ease social distancing while maintaining public safety measures," he said.

The Prime Minister on Thursday stated no cities or provinces remain at "high risk" of Covid-19 infection except for some districts in Hanoi, Bac Ninh and Ha Giang. Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, now only "at risk", have been allowed to end their 22-day social distancing campaign and move to the implementation of less stringent social distancing measures.

Certain restrictions on public gatherings remain and both cities are required to monitor the opening of businesses and services in their areas of jurisdiction.

According to a VCCI survey, 50 percent of enterprises will only survive for half a year if the pandemic lasts long and isolation measures are not removed in time. Millions of employees are losing their jobs, with the number of unemployed in danger of increasing. Tens of thousands of enterprises and business households have closed, dissolved or narrowed production, with many entering "hibernation" or "clinical death".

Loc suggested the government to consider setting up a steering committee headed by the Prime Minister to restart the economy and support businesses.

According to Vo Tri Thanh, director of the Institute for Brand and Competitive Strategy, relaxing social distancing restrictions and restarting some production and business areas would facilitate transformation of business models, for example, applying digital technologies to transactions and customer services.

"This post-Covid-19 pandemic lesson is profound, providing for economic recovery and progress," Thanh said.

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