Trade and Industry Sec. Ramon Lopez expects the demand for face masks to increase to 1.2 billion per month amid the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic.
Lopez said assuming 20 million households need two face masks daily, the demand for the product would reach 1.2 billion for one month.
The figure excludes the needs of hospitals for health care workers.
“We will continue to encourage more manufacturers to produce medical products, which would now be part of our basic necessities even after the lifting of the enhanced community quarantine,” he said.
Amid the Covid-19 outbreak in the country, the government has mandated wearing face masks when going out.
Before the outbreak of the coronavirus here, the country had one face-mask maker, which is based in Bataan.
Lopez said some manufacturing companies are repurposing their factories and are now producing personal protection equipment and other products related to the government’s fight against Covid-19.
For instance, the Confederation of Wearable Exporters of the Philippines, a group of garments and wearable exporters, has begun producing PPE sets, while the electronics company New Kinpo Group would manufacture face masks and shields, as well as ventilators.
“What the DTI is doing is we encourage manufacturers or exporters to produce medical equipment or devices that are much needed nowadays,” Lopez said.
The Board of Investments, a DTI-attached agency, began accepting applications for enterprises that would produce medical equipment and devices, as well as suppliers of raw materials and packaging of these products.
The government has offered firms that would manufacture such products exemption from import duties, taxes, and other fees.