PCCI urges immediate passage of stimulus act
Bats for more support for agri-fishery
04 May 2020 – As the country faces the biggest challenge to its economic growth, the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), the largest umbrella of business organizations in the country, is calling on policymakers and economic managers to implement fiscal stimulus measures to encourage private sector activity and increase business and consumer confidence.
Strongly supporting the proposed Philippine Economic Stimulus Act (PESA), PCCI lauded the overall objective of the bill whose proposed fiscal stimulus package, PCCI says, supports the organization’s Roadmap to Recovery.
PCCI President, Amb. Benedicto said, “Two weeks ago, PCCI came up with a roadmap identifying priority sectors on the road to recovery - construction, agri-fishery and its supply chain, micro, small medium enterprises (MSMEs) and land transportation. The PESA, as it currently stands, strongly supports and concretizes our roadmap and it is for this reason that we support the enactment of the bill subject to further enhancements.”
Observing that the proposed measure’s definition of industries critically-impacted by COVID-19 belong primarily to non-essential business entities (related to tourism, air travel and trade), PCCI emphasized that the upstream and downstream of agriculture and aquaculture as well as public transportation, are critically impacted as well.
“Our food producers have lost significant amount of income because of barriers to logistics posted by the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ). Highly perishable produce have found it difficult to move their way into markets such that they have to be thrown away. The downstream industries such as food processing, retailing and restaurants are similarly impacted having to operate only partially, if at all”, Yujuico explained.
Loans and grants for the agri-fishery supply chain
Given the importance of farming and fishery to the economy, PCCI batted to increase the fund allocated to the sector in the form of loans, guarantees and grants to cover for the sector’s continuing needs for inputs such as seeds, fertilizers, crop protectants, feeds, irrigation and machinery, research and development and access to markets.
Yujuico urged, “We propose that aside from the loan allocation of P6-B, agri-fishery producers and related enterprises should be given grants commensurate to our need to achieve food sufficiency and security, and countryside development. The sector has been neglected in the past and it is only now, under crisis, that the sector has been put in the spotlight for its importance in feeding our people and reviving our economy.”
Noting the importance of the food production value chain, PCCI emphasized that the grants and loans for industries and services should cover the downstream of agri-fishery such as food processing, canning, packaging, marketing and logistics where supply chain gaps can be addressed and forward and backward linkages in the agri-manufacturing-services can be strengthened.
Interest-free Loans to MSMEs
While the Chamber appreciated the inclusion of interest-free loan from government-owned Landbank of the Philippines and the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP), PCCI said the implementing rules and regulations to be jointly drafted by the Department of Finance (DOF) and the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) should provide more flexibility to make it easier for MSMEs to benefit from the program.
Support for public transportation and innovation
Pointing out how quarantine restrictions have intensified the use of digital technology to continue operating, PCCI said the country needs to create an ecosystem that supports and mentors start-ups and young entrepreneurs.
“It is about time we promote the culture of innovation. We are in dynamically changing times; we need to embrace innovative technology to improve agility and efficiency, increase productivity, and induce industrialization,” Yujuico emphasized.
On public transportation, Yujuico added, “The operation of taxis, transport network vehicle services (TNVS) and public utility vehicles (PUVs) have altogether stopped under the ECQ. Once we graduate to the GCQ, they can operate but below capacity because of physical distancing and limited workforce. There must be a means to subsidize them to ensure that they will continue to operate and service those who will go back to work.”
Call to accelerate the stimulus act’s passage
Finally, PCCI appreciated the initiative of the House of Representatives, specifically Representative Joey Salceda, Stella Quimbo and Sharon Garin and expressed hope that coordination is already being done with the Senate to have a counterpart measure that is similar in design to fastrack the enactment of the bill.
Click here for a copy of PCCI’s position paper on the Philippine Economic Stimulus Act bill.