THE Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) on Thursday admitted that Filipino consumers have remained aloof even after the government lifted restrictions for travel and the operations of various businesses in big parts of the country.
DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez, in an interview aired over the Laging Handa public briefing, appealed to Filipinos to support local businesses to preserve jobs and help put the economy back on track.
He said unless local consumption picks up, micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs), will continue to lose, which will jeopardize one million jobs in the sector.
“Let’s help our country…shop, eat, and travel local particularly in places where the quarantine level allows it. The objective is we have to stimulate demand…bring back the confidence of our countrymen for services and products from our MSMEs,” Lopez said.
He acknowledged that with little local support, the national economy cannot find traction to regain momentum.
“Only with this support from our “kababayans” can we really reopen and restart our economy. A few weeks ago, we allowed people to go back to their work in the manufacturing operations and services. Also the dine-in restaurants, barbershops, and salons considering that there are over one million workers in that sector,” he said.
Lopez said the public’s response to resumption of commerce has been lukewarm.
“As we reopened the economy, we noted things are slower, there was too little sales of products and demand for services. We feel there is a need to remind our “kababayans” to patronize our locally produced products, to inject life into our local companies that support local employment,” he explained.
“In other words, when they buy anything local, they help create jobs for our own workers. When they buy imported goods, what they are helping are companies abroad that hire foreign workers. We need local support to restart our economy,” he added.
Lopez warned that while the government is providing capitalization support to businesses, it would be like pouring water down the drain unless local demand for products and services get back to previous levels before the lockdown due to COVID 19.
“Our financial assistance … the working capital loans that are extended to businesses must be accompanied by demand. The businesses operations must be driven by demands for their products. Without this, it will be futile, they will only end up losing more,” the Cabinet official said.
When that happens, he said unemployment will further worsen.
“What we are worried about is if the companies would simply decide to let their workers go and shut operations. That’s why we need to support them,” Lopez said.