• Melo Acuna

PCCI seeks better and clear-cut definition of terms in the Economic Stimulus Act

Clear-cut definition of “critically-impacted industries” needed

MANILA – While the Legislature appears determined to formulate what is called Philippine Economic Stimulus Act, the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) called for clearer definition of terms for clarity and better understanding.

Former Ambassador Benedicto V. Yujuico, PCCI President, in a letter addressed to Co-chairpersons Jose Sarte Salceda, Sharon Garin and Stella Luz Quimbo of the Economic Stimulus and Recovery Plan (ESRP) dated today, he said the Chamber is supportive of the Legislature’s efforts to bring back the economy on track by way of allowing construction, agriculture, manufacturing, Micro-Small and Medium Enterprises along with Transportation.

The lockdown have way to government to undertake maintenance work on existing infrastructure and has reaped benefits for the country’s farming and fishery industries and micro and small enterprises “the attention they rightly deserve.”

“The lockdown has amplified the importance of automation in government processes and the use of digital technology among MSMEs,” President Yujuico said.

The draft Philippine Economic Stimulus Act as of today, strongly supports and concretized the roadmap PCCI formulated that is why the Chamber supports its enactment.

Former Ambassador Yuhuico said the Chamber would appreciate a clear definition and “possibly expansion of industries that are critically-impacted by COVID-19.” The bill is said to refer to enterprises as non-essential business entities related to tourism, air travel and trade. He added the upstream and downstream of agriculture and aquaculture identified as essential sectors have been affected too.

He lamented that due to different interpretation of logistics guidelines, highly perishable produce failed to reach the targeted markets that farmers opted to throw them away which caused significant losses to farmers. Even food processors, retailing and restaurants have resorted to partial operations.

Taxis, transport network vehicle services (TNVS) and public utility vehicles stopped operations during the lockdown and once General Community Quarantine begins, they are allowed to operate at limited capacity.

“There must be a means to subsidize them to ensure that they will continue to operate and service those who will go back to work,” he explained.

He added their members have been following up on the wage subsidies promised under the COVID-19 Adjustment Measures Program (CAMP) and have been left with no option but proceed to the Department of Finance for the Small Business Wage Subsidy (SBWS) program.

“The tedious process to apply for the programs have given rise to frustrations,” President Yuijuico pointed out.

He lamented all these could have been avoided had automation been made a reality with the Philippine Business Registry (PBR) and the National ID system. PBR could have linked business processing and licensing systems related to both national and local government agencies. Ten years after the law was enacted, the project has yet to be fully integrated. Two years have already passed yet the National ID system has not been implemented. Subsidies could have been delivered soonest with the proper systems in place.

The PCCI believes resources for tourism can be used to reconfigure physical spaces for health-related activities for quarantine for medical or health workers or repatriated overseas workers or temporary homes for workers in BPOs and outsourcing industries.

They also called on government to continue its plans to extend grants and loans for industries and services, particularly those in the downstream of agriculture which include food processing, canning packaging, marketing and logistics.

PCCI suggested that the private sector be given the chance to sit in the Economic Stimulus Board, where one could be co-chair instead of placing it under the Office of the President. (Melo M. Acuña)

Former Ambassador Benedict V. Yujuico speaking before Tapatan sa Aristocrat (Virtual Edition). He is currently president of Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry. (Melo M. Acuna photo)

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