PCCI seeks full resumption of business, eased protocols

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    The Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) is pushing for the full resumption of economic activities, including the unhampered movement of workers even as it branded as impractical, costly and not feasible the new health protocols in some work settings

    PCCI president Benedicto Yujuico said the group is also calling for the adoption of additional measures that would support the recovery of businesses in the wake of easing of quarantines and opening up of the economy.

    In a statement, Yujuico said the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Infectious Diseases should consider including the private sector in making guidelines affecting

    “We understand the precarious situation of our medical workers and frontliners. But we also need to stress that the longer our economy stays in its current state where businesses cannot function 100 percent, nor even up to 75 percent, the more protracted the recession that will follow and the more people will be permanently out of jobs,” said Yujuico, referring to the 16.2 percent contraction in the country’s GDP in the second quarter.

    Yujuico said PCCI members, mostly micro, small and medium enterprises, have expressed grave concern on government’s apprehensiveness to fully open the economy, the incoherence in the regulations of the IATF and local government agencies and the stringent guidelines imposed on enterprises that are allowed to operate under the more relaxed general community quarantine (GCQ).

    “For instance, mandating the use of face shields for workers, the observance of two-meter physical distancing and the designation of an isolation area of one room for every 200 employees, is simply not realistic in a production-line setting,” Yujuico said.

    The top concerns of the business sector are the stringent regulation on public transportation that limits the mobility of workers; the policies and regulations imposed by local governments on top of, or inconsistent with those implemented by the IATF; the impractical standards that must be adopted in workplace settings; slow consumer confidence which negatively impact on sales and revenues; and, cash flow and liquidity.

    Yujuico also observed the imposition of health and safety standards on the informal sector, which is an added cost that eats up on their already meager revenue.

    A resolution passed by the PCCI’s Board of Directors urged government to engage the private sector in consultations before coming up with policy recommendations on the lockdowns and the resumption of economic activities.

    “We are appealing for the inclusion the private sector in the IATF. The IATF will be able to use the on-the- ground experience of the business sector to come up with a holistic approach that will make it easier for businesses to resume operation and for workers to return to work,” Yujuico said.

    Yujuico in his remarks at the 29th North Luzon Area Business Conference yesterday said while some of the group’s recommendations of its Roadmap to Recovery have been heeded by government, the group will more strongly pursue a “recovery that provides stimulus for business confidence.”

    Yujuico was referring to the group’s clamor for the immediate passage of the P1.5-trillion Accelerated Recovery and Investments Stimulus for the Economy bill as well as the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises Act which would stimulate businesses and encourage more investments.

    Yujuico said PCCI also sees the need to accelerate Build, Build, Build, citing three significant infrastructure developments — Clark Airport expansion; Subic-Clark cargo railway and the NLEX-SLEX connector road — which would intensify the viability of industrial activities in Northern and Central Luzon:

    Another key measured pushed by PCCI is the strengthening of the local business environment by streamlining business process through automation and integration of government transactions and permitting and licensing.

    Yujuico also noted the need to develop new sunrise industries under new normal: health infrastructure, digital economy, manufacturing of essentials and research and development innovation