PCCI appeals to government to make it easy for workers to return to work
Urges inclusion of business sector in IATF 

As the country’s unemployment rate surges to 45%, the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), the largest business organization in the country, reiterated its call to government to allow the full resumption of economic activities and to do this in a coordinated manner where the movement of workers will be unhampered and businesses can resume operation in an efficient manner.


“We acknowledge the hard work the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) is doing to prevent the spread of COVID-19.  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%, nor even up to 75%, the more protracted the recession that will follow and the more people will be permanently out of jobs,” Amb. Benedicto Yujuico, PCCI President said, referring to the 16.2% percent contraction in the country’s GDP in the second quarter.


Yujuico has been holding roundtable discussion with PCCI’s local chamber members around the country, comprised mostly of MSME, and with its industry association members, which are medium and large enterprises to gather their sentiments on the lockdown.  All 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 2-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 explained.


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 expressed hope that government will recognize the vital role of businesses in creating labor demand and providing incomes, and the urgency of addressing the issue on livelihood and poverty before these could lead to social unrest arising from subsistence living and hunger.


UPDATE: In news reports on August 21, Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque announced that Malacañang welcomes PCCI in the IATF as resource persons during COVID-19 policy discussions concerning trade, business and the economy.