Local PPE makers seek gov’t support

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    Local manufacturers of medical-grade personal protective equipment (PPE) while committed to pump up production of masks and coveralls are seeking government support to make this new and emerging industry in the Philippines sustainable.

    The Confederation of Wearable Exporters of the Philippines (CONWEP) and the Confederation of Philippine Manufacturers of PPE (CPMP) in a joint statement urged the passage of the Bayanihan 2 for the provision of fiscal support to the industry as well as the issuance stronger policies that would curb the influx of imported substandard PPEs

    The groups are specifically asking for four fiscal measures:

    One, exemption from payment of duties, taxes, fees, to include value-added tax (VAT) on local sales, for locally manufactured medical grade PPE.

    The groups said this will give ample leverage to emerging sub sector, to level off the playing field.

    Two, strict implementation of the government to qualify and impose Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and FDA-accredited third party laboratory testing on imported PPEs; and imported PPEs should be imposed with duties, taxes, and other fees, to include VAT on local sales.

    Three, the retroactive application of capital equipment exemptions on import duties, and exemption on VAT on local sales (treated as exports) to cover the period from the time Republic Act 11469 or Bayanihan Act 1 expired, should apply to repurposing firms and local manufacturers of medical grade PPE and;

    Four, the government, as the procuring entity shall give priority and procure critical products manufactured, produced or made in the Philippines.

    “We request our legislators to implement fiscal policy reforms that would allow the local PPE industry to grow and be sustainable. We need to level off the playing field from the influx of substandard PPEs. We commit to producing these medical grade PPEs… and available at competitive prices that can easily compete against imports,” the groups said.

    CONWEP, and CPMP comprised of Medtecs International Corp. Ltd., EMS Components Assembly Inc., Reliance Producers Cooperative, Luen Thai International Group Philippines Inc., and Tacca Industries Pty Ltd from Australia responded calls in March 2020 by the Department of Trade and Industry for the garments and electronics sectors to repurpose a portion of their factory to produce PPEs such as medical grade N95, N88 masks as well as medical grade seam sealed coveralls, isolation gowns, head and shoe covers .

    The five CPMP members now have a consolidated monthly capacity of over 57 million pieces of masks and 3 million pieces of coveralls and isolation gowns.

    The groups said all products produced by the CPMP passed the highest standard requirements and were certified by third-party international laboratories testing facilities for PPE, such as Intertek, UL and SGS. All CPMP products are medical-grade and produced in FDA-certified local factories with FDA license to operate clean room facilities.

    The CPMP re-purposing initiative saved 7,450 jobs and generated $35 million.

    “We would like to request the critical support of government to provide a sustainable environment for this sub sector to grow, an emerging sub sector critical to meet the national need for medical grade PPE during health crisis. We would like to emphasize that repurposing of manufacturing to produce medical grade PPE provides the crucial factor of maintaining jobs of the skilled Filipino workers in the repurposed exporter- factories during this crisis,” the groups said.

    The joint statement was signed by

    Maritess Jocson-Agoncillo and Rosette Carrillo, executive director of CONWEP and CPMP, respectively.