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  • Writer's pictureMelo Acuna

Roadmap for post-COVID-19 era needed

Roadmap to recovery vital; food security is a must

MANILA – While the enhanced community quarantine for the main island of Luzon will stay at least until April 30, the government should draw up plans for a post-COVID-19 scenario.

Former Ambassador Benedicto V. Yujuico, Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry president said business establishments should be opened by phases and not as abrupt as suggested by some sectors.

In an exclusive online interview over Melo Acuna Reports, the PCCI president said everyone should look for remedies as the government slowly opens the economy.

“While the government says we have enough rice for the next three to four months, the government should assure our farmers of the necessary help by extending seeds, fertilizers and everything they need,” he said. He added it is not enough to rely on rice imports.

He said this experience under COVID-19 should be a lesson for everyone “because for us to be a stronger country, we should be self-sufficient in our food requirements.” He said this should be a top priority for government, “to protect and nurture our industry.”

Told of the dwindling rice lands due to land conversion, Mr. Yujuico said the Philippines can very well learn from Israel where technology and ingenuity have been the hallmark of their Agriculture.

With the global economic and supply chains in disarray, the former ambassador said the country needs to develop and take advantage of the domestic market. With the further development of agriculture and aquaculture sectors, the country can achieve the long-desired food security.

Asked what the government ought to do to help micro, small and medium enterprises, Mr. Yujuico said the distribution of subsidies ought to be done immediately as he called on the economic managers to seriously consider a simplified process in extending grants to SMEs.

“How I wish the government would guarantee loans from P10,000 to P50,00 for SMEs where legitimate businessmen could avail (from commercial banks) with a simple certification from the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry,” he added.

SMEs would just need to be accredited by PCCI and could access loans from private commercial banks. He added should 50% of the grantees renege on the terms and conditions and that the government will shoulder the costs, it would still be smaller than outright loss of income and work for the businessmen and their workers.

Ambassador Yujuico said the government should improve the flow of goods, enhancing the supply chain as it may impact on peace and order in the quarantined areas.

Ang Pilipino magtitiis hanggang kaya at nararapat makarating ang tulong sa pinakamahihirap,” he further said. He explained failure to attend to the basic needs under the existing quarantine may bring out more difficult conditions.

He called for the partial lifting of enhanced community quarantine with the public transport sector to support the slow but steady recovery towards economic normalcy along with the continuation of social distancing policy.

He said by rehabilitating existing transport infrastructures, the government needs to resume railroad projects and maintenance work of the Metro Rapid Transit. While under the enhanced community quarantine, this is the most opportune time to undertake rehabilitation of existing projects. However, the government and its partners need to ensure workers are at safe physical distance while at the worksite.

He said infrastructure projects should continue along with the needed industries like cement and steel because it would provide employment for the skilled workers.

Lastly, during these trying times, Ambassador Yujuico said it is time for everyone to work together, where every sector will cooperate. (Melo M. Acuña)

Former Ambassador and PCCI President Benedicto V. Yujuico. (PCCI File Photo)

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