A major business group called for a review of the Strategic Investment Priorities Plan in the wake of the pandemic and the passage of the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises Act.
This was one of the key proposals of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry during the National Employment Resurgence Strategy dialog on April 23.
PCCI president Benedicto Yujuico said the business sector was aiming to achieve the national goal of recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic through inclusive and sustainable economic growth based on the principles of social justice, full employment and decent work.
“As our country continues to battle the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and transition into a ‘new normal’, we foresee continuing challenges with the fast-evolving work patterns and environment and other disruptions that may hinder the attainment of decent work and affect employment and livelihood of individuals,” he said.
PCCI also asked the government to improve data security and privacy and monitor online transactions to restore business confidence.
“As businesses adopt the digital transformation and more workers are in WFH arrangement, the need for better data security is also more apparent. The government, in partnership with the private sector, must explore means of improving the security of the Philippines’ internet infrastructure, provide standards in data security for businesses and monitor e-commerce transactions to ensure consumer protection,” Yujuico said.
He said issues such as uncertainty, risks and wait-and-see attitudes slowed down economic activities, particularly investments and consumption. These episodes resulted in lower sales and cash liquidity constraints for businesses, exerting downward pressure on productivity and operational capacity.
Yujuico said one way of restoring market confidence is to improve the government’s vaccine rollout with simultaneous rollout of effective promotion and proper education on vaccines. Another is to recognize industry workers as “essential” economic frontliners with priority in the vaccination and with exemptions or eased requirements in mobility restrictions.
He also called for improved community quarantine restrictions by “ensuring that government planning and communications are deliberate, flexible, responsive, clear and consistent, without sporadic changes and should be consistent with official policies and guidelines.”
PCCI reiterated its call for a wage subsidy program.
“Any assistance or help from the government is welcome. The wage subsidy would provide some relief for businesses in paying employees’ compensation and allow for some savings,” Yujuico said.
The group also sought moratorium on the renewal of existing permits and licenses and transaction fees.
PCCI also asked the government to stabilize and address the rising costs of logistics and raw materials.
“Given these challenges, we affirm our strong commitment and constant cooperation to realize the outcomes espoused in the NERS. We commit to work on harmonizing the strategies, programs and policies of our employment recovery agenda through actions that will create a policy environment that encourages the generation of more employment opportunities with improved access to employment, livelihood and training opportunities,” Yujuico said.