The Department of Trade and Industry proposed the faster opening of business establishments in the Category 3 or services sector that are operating at only 50-percent of their normal capacity.
Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said the government wanted to see these businesses fully reopened to allow more workers in the field and support economic recovery.
“Right now, they are still 50-percent [opened] which is good. But if we allow more of this sector to reach 100-percent [capacity], the benefit will be even better. We appeal to implement these economic-based improvements,” Lopez said during the Senate hearing on the proposed budget of DTI for 2021.
Among the services under Category 3 are legal and accounting, management and consultancy, architect and engineering, science and research development, advertising, market research, computer programming, publishing, printing, film, music/TV production and employment activities that include recruitment and placement agencies for overseas employment, photography, wholesale and retail trade and motor vehicles repair.
Lopez said the opening of these establishments would help improve the economic situation as business confidence remained low and unemployment was still high.
The DTI estimated that 4.4 million Filipino workers lost their jobs at the height of the pandemic. Updated data from the agency showed that almost half already regained employment, with only 2.4 million Filipinos left without means of livelihood.
Lopez said the solution to the high unemployment is to fully reopen the services sector which is a labor-intensive industry.
“We can keep the same minimum health standards. It’s been six months already. We should reopen the remaining sectors. That’s my appeal and that is not popular, especially to the health workers but you see, I guarantee that if we keep the enforcement strict, I believe we can reopen [the economy],” he said.
Lopez said investor confidence dropped from 30 percent to 20 percent, but “it’s good to know that there are enterprises and businesses that plan to expand.”
“We believe that the displaced 2 million workers can get back to work if we allow the services sector to open up. It may not happen in the MGCQ, but numbers are improving,” he said.