Philippines approves Boracay Casino to finance pandemic measures


MANILA, Aug 29 (Bloomberg): The Philippine government approved plans for a casino in the tourist island of Boracay to boost funds for its pandemic measures.

President Rodrigo Duterte has given his go-ahead, presidential spokesman Harry Roque said in statement on Saturday, without naming the casino and giving details as to the timing. Health protocols and safeguards to keep children away from gambling will be required, he said.

Earlier this month, the government cut its economic growth forecast for this year to 4% to 5% from 6% to 7% as the nation battles a surge of virus cases due to the delta strain. Galaxy Entertainment Group. Ltd’s plan to build a casino resort in Boracay was halted in 2018 after Duterte ordered a ban.

Meanwhile, the Philippines extended virus restrictions in the capital region until Sept 7 as the government tries to balance the need to contain the pandemic with boosting the economy.

Metro Manila will remain under the so-called "modified enhanced community quarantine,” under which the second-toughest movement restrictions are in place, presidential spokesman Harry Roque said in statement on Saturday.

While most businesses are allowed to operate, many non-essential industries such as beauty parlors and bars remain shut. The curbs were earlier set to end on Aug 31.

Earlier this month, the government cut its economic growth forecast for this year to 4% to 5% from 6% to 7%. Officials have said that the pace of the vaccination rollout will dictate the country’s economic recovery.

The government reported 17,447 new virus cases on Friday. Hospitals across the country are under strain, with 75% of intensive-care beds occupied. - Bloomberg

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