MANILA, Philippines – The volume and value of products churned out by the country’s factories fell to a 20-year low in April amid the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ)—said to be among the most restrictive COVID-19 lockdowns in the region—which put a halt to business activities in areas comprising almost three-fourths of the economy.

The Philippine Statistics Authority’s (PSA) monthly integrated survey of selected industries (Missi) for April showed that the volume of production index (VoPI)—a proxy for nationwide factory output—slid 59.8 percent year-on-year.

“The downturn in VoPI was driven by the significant decreases in indices of all industry groups, of which, three were in very minimal business operations, namely: leather products (down 99 percent), footwear and wearing apparel (down 97.8 percent), and furniture and fixtures (down 91.7 percent),” the PSA said in a report.

The value of the production index (VaPI) plunged by a faster 61.4 percent last April.

“The decline in VaPI in April was due to the downward movements noted in all the 20 industry groups, seven of which registered more than 85-percent decrements in VaPI. These were leather products (down 98.6 percent), footwear and wearing apparel (down 98 percent), furniture and fixtures (down 90 percent), fabricated metal products (down 89.9 percent), non-metallic mineral products (down 87.7 percent), rubber and plastic products (down 87.7 percent), and tobacco products (down 86.8 percent),” the PSA said.

The PSA said that both the April VoPI and VaPI figures were the biggest year-on-year drops posted since 2001.

National Statistician Claire Dennis S. Mapa told the Inquirer that this meant the factory output volume and value in April were the lowest since the government rebased the VoPI and VaPI to the year 2000.

During a virtual press conference on Friday, Acting Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick T. Chua acknowledged that the ECQ pulled down April’s manufacturing volume and value.

“As we shift from ECQ to GCQ [general community quarantine], we will be seeing improvements in the succeeding months,” said Chua, who heads the state planning agency National Economic and Development Authority (Neda).

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