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PH economy now ready for full reopening despite virus

A full-scale reopening of the the economy while battling the pandemic at the same time is the right formula for recovery. 

A worker in personal protective equipment sprays disenfectant. AFP
Businessmen believe the Philippine economy will fully recover and grow if the government allows a 100-percent operational capacity to key economic sectors, such as retail and services.

The Employers Confederation of the Philippines, thus, has called for the full-blast reopening of all business toward the tailend of the last quarter.

“Even before, and that was last year, there was a consensus to live with the virus. This consensus is even more pronounced today, now that we have the vaccines, and with the aggressive vaccination efforts and us maintaining the minimum health protocol,” said ECOP president Sergio Ortiz-Luis.

He said with 70 percent of the population in Metro Manila now vaccinated, it is more logical to allow full-blast reopening so that the business community, especially the micro companies, may “start their own tales of recovery.”

Many micro enterprises, for one, have been anticipating the rollout of loans to tide them over their responsibility to provide the mandatory bonus for workers.

ECOP recently met with the Department of Labor to discuss the extent of the special loan program, how many micro firms will be allowed to avail of the credit assistance and the possible requirements these firms may need to qualify for the facility.

Small Business Corp., the financing arm of the Department of Trade and Industry will start accepting applications starting November 2, 2021. The company is preparing loan packages of about P50,000 to P200,000 for micro and small enterprises.

Workers placing signage to block off seats inside a cinema in Manila ahead of the reopening of movie houses following a sharp fall in the daily number of coronavirus infections and increased vaccinations.
“Similar to what we did last year, we see no reason to defer the 13th month pay for this year as the government stands ready to support businesses amid the pandemic. We already reached out to SBCorp to develop a facility that will provide zero-interest loans to companies needing 13th month funding,” said DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez.

The DTI in 2020 lent out funds from SBCorp.’s CAREs program to help micro and small enterprises provide the 13th month pay of their workers. The CAREs program aims to assist enterprises affected by the pandemic. The funding comes from an P8-billion allocation from the Bayanihan Recover As One Act (Bayanihan 2).  

In addition to the DTI’s continued rollout of the COVID-19 Assistance to Restart Enterprises (CARES) Program, Lopez said a more sustainable solution for businesses would be the reopening of more activities, even on Alert Levels 4 and 3.  

“The idea here is that we allow more business continuity and simply adjust operating capacities at different Alert Levels to safely increase mobility,” Lopez said. 

Employers, meanwhile, reminded the government that safe business continuity was possible if workers are given access to a reliable and safe transport system.

“Why not bring back the pre-pandemic flow of public transport. If we want our employees to come to the office or to our stores, shops or restaurants, I believe they have a right to decent access to transportation. But the government should be able not only to address transportation issues but ensure that the long queues in passenger terminals will not start another super spreader event,” Ortiz-Luis said.

“We hope that the government will stop all these experiments on lockdown measures, transportation schemes and on all types of COVID responses,” he added.

Topics: Economy , Ramon Lopez , COVID-19 , Employers Confederation of the Philippines , Sergio Ortiz-Luis
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