• Melo Acuna

The Philippines may get something useful from neighbouring countries facing COVID-19

Most small and medium businesses call on government to ease the lockdown

MANILA – The micro, small and medium enterprises, the backbone of Philippine labor called on the government to ease their plight by some moderation on the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) which has been declared since March 16 and enforced until April 30.

Former Ambassador Benedict V. Yujuico, president of the broad-based Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry said small and medium-scale businesses have remained closed and they have been in receipt of appeals for the government to reopen business without jeopardizing health issues.

Speaking over Tapatan sa Aristocrat (Virtual Edition) Monday morning, Mr. Yuhuico said their letter addressed to President Rodrigo Roa Duterte was well received and acknowledged by Secretaries Dominguez, Lopez, and Dar of the Departments of Finance, Trade and Industry and Agriculture, respectively.

“We are happy the government considered several of our suggestions,” former envoy Yujuico said. He added the government should seriously take into consideration the assistance to be extended to micro, small and medium enterprises in the amount of P250 billion.

He explained there are about 1.3 million micro, small and medium enterprises with several employees. What worries him is what happens after two months.

Micro, small and medium enterprises, should they be allowed to return to business, would at least help cushion the impact by providing the needed cash to its employees for food and medicines.

Asked if their members would survive beyond a lockdown of two months or more, President Yujuico said it be very hard to project how small and medium-scale businessmen could take the brunt of economic difficulties. He added when government resources run dry and workers with a family of five could no longer afford to feed the brood, the country’s leaders should learn from the experiences of similarly-situated countries.

“We may be able to find something good from their experience,” he added. The country should prepare for a scenario that no immediate drug would be available to combat COVID-19 in the near future.

He added he learned some businesses have begun laying off their workers as he expressed concern of the possibility more businesses would close shop in the near future.

The PCCI president said while Business Process Outsourcing (BPOs) remains one of the country’s leading dollar earner over the years but now most have closed due to COVID-19 pandemic.

The government and the private sector, the PCCI included, should find ways to keep BPOs running while observing the government’s advice on social distancing. (Melo M. Acuña)

Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry President former Ambassador Benedict V. Yujuico. (Screen grab from Tapatan sa Aristocrat (Virtual Edition) Monday morning. (Melo M. Acuna)

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