The country’s largest business group, the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, has submitted to the government its recommendations to help the nation recover amid the coronavirus disease crisis.
In a statementay, PCCI said it supports the national government’s decision to extend the enhanced community quarantine to give time for mass testing and do measures to control the epidemic before gradually resuming economic activities.
While Luzon and other parts of the country are under the enhanced community quarantine, PCCI said this is an opportunity to resume railroad projects and maintenance of the Metro Rail Transit-3.
“With travel restrictions limiting the use of roads, rails and ports, the ECQ period is the best opportunity for government and its private sector partners to undertake the rehabilitation of existing infrastructure,” the group said.
It added that the government should continue its “Build, Build, Build” Program, but should give high priority to infrastructure projects that would improve the supply chain in sectors of agriculture and manufacturing.
The PCCI urged to refocus growth strategy on ensuring food security and taking advantage of the domestic market.
The government should further invest in developing the agriculture and aquaculture sectors to achieve food security. This would also help in boosting economic activities in the countryside, the group said.
“Aside from infrastructure support that includes farm-to-market roads, irrigation, post-harvest facilities, and other related projects, the agriculture and aquaculture sectors must be provided input subsidies and access to research and development and technologies,” PCCI added.
The business group noted that micro and small enterprises need the support of the government to return to their businesses amid the new normal by leveraging on disruptive technologies and flexible arrangements to access loans.
“A disruption in itself, COVID 19 has shown the importance of adopting disruptive technologies to efficiently and quickly adapt to rapid changes in the business environment. Micro and small enterprises (MSEs) must be equipped to leverage on digital platforms to bridge supply chain gaps,” it added.
The group said that end-to-end platform solutions for farmers, fisherfolk, manufacturers, and entrepreneurs should also be in place to provide unimpeded access to the market.
Special arrangements to access loans will also help MSEs to overcome financial difficulties, PCCI said.
“Most MSEs do not have the expertise to tap into formal credit facilities and it is in this regard that PCCI renews its call on the Bangko Sentral, banks and other financing institutions and the Small Business Corporation (SB Corp.) to simplify the process and make it easier for MSEs to access loans,” it added.
Moreover, it asked the government to gradually resume the operations in the public transport sector to ease the movement of labor in essential sectors.
“In the event that the definition of essential industries is expanded, one of the sectors that must be included is the public transport sector,” PCCI said.
While planning for resuming economic activities gradually, the government, private sector, and other stakeholders should continue to provide a safe work environment.