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  • Writer's pictureMelo Acuna

PCCI calls: Allow us to do business

PCCI calls on government to seriously consider full business resumption

MANILA – The country’s biggest business organization, the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, called on the government to allow the full operation of business and its corresponding services for the economy to fully recover and avoid the possible collapse of businesses and livelihoods.

In a strongly-worded statement, PCCI President Amb. Benedicto V. Yujuico said with the almost five months of lockdowns more companies are at greater risks of closing permanently.

He said for Q1 this year, the country’s GDP contracted by 0.2%. While some economic activity continued under the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), data from the second quarter show industrial production falling to a record low of 43.5% in April, followed by 40.3% year-on-year in May. Exports and imports dropped more than 50%. The situation was further aggravated by the exodus of returning Filipino workers which breached 90,000 last July 18 according to the Department of Foreign Affairs’ data.

“Obviously, we don’t need economists to tell us there could be faster slide and steeper decline I GDP during the second quarter when economic activity was reduced to a minimum. Extending the lockdown further could already spell disaster for the country,” Yuijuico explained.

He said with a sense of urgency that it is no longer a choice between health and the economy because it is not just jobs and likelihood at stake.

“Business closures mean drop0 in taxes and budgetary income, putting at risk the sustainability of public finances and the ability to fund public services, including health and education,” Yujuico further said.

Following a series of dialogues with their local chambers from Mindanao and North and South Luzon, Yujuico said the figures raised by their members were “alarming.” More than 50% have closed down while those who remained in operation scaled down their employees to from 25-30%. The most badly-hit businesses are those who rely on tourism and the services industries and those which mostly host micro, small and medium enterprises or MSMEs.

PCCI members in Palawan, those from El Nido and Puerto Princesa reported some 800 hotyels and tourism businesses closed. PCCI in Taytay which mostly rely on the garments industry operated mostly by micro-enterprises, reported that over 8,000 businesses ended operations. Some 1,000 business enterprises are on limited operation.

Mindanao businessmen who are into agriculture reported difficulties because of the limited movement of workers and cargoes.

The PCCI statement said members in three areas report that despite border passes, authorized persons outside residence found it difficult to report to their places of work that are outside their towns or cities due to strict health and safety protocols and quarantine measures and the lack of public transportation.

“Government needs to be more sensible and rational in its decision on the lockdowns,” Yujuico further said. He explained one cannot open a business and limit it to 30-50% because it would be a losing proposition. Restaurants cannot open with 50% capacity because 50% is not enough to pay the rent, utilities and employees nor could manufacturers allowed to operate below capacity because they will still provide accommodation and shuttle services for its workers.

“One cannot open businesses, even at phases, without allowing public transportation,” he said.

Ambassador Yujuico said the Philippines can learn from European countries, Vietnam. Thailand, Taiwan and South Korea which reopened their economies though relying on social distancing, wearing of masks, washing of hands, widespread testing, a network of contact tracing to identify and contain new outbreaks, and lockdown on specific communities with COVID-19 cases.

Presidential Spokesman Secretary Harry Roque said the agree with the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry to fully reopen the economy.

“Sang-ayon po kami diyan 100% kaya nga po ang mensahe natin bagama’t nandiyan pa po ang COVID-19, kinakailangang ingatan ang buhay para po makapaghanapbuhay,” Secretary Roque added. (Melo M. Acuña)

PCCI President Amb. Benedicto V. Yujuico. (File Photo/Melo M. Acuna)

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