EDC-7 chair cites need to balance safety, profitability in reviving CV economy
CEBU, May 30 (PIA) — As majority of the local government units in Central Visayas have started the transition towards general community quarantine (GCQ), there is a need to revive the regional economy that has been badly hit by the COVID-19 pandemic while also keeping communities safe from the COVID-19 infection.
According to Virgilio Espeleta, chairperson of the Economic Development Committee (EDC) of the Regional Development Council (RDC-7), economic activity in the region needs to pick up as soon as possible even amid the continued reports of COVID-19 positive cases in Central Visayas.
“Ideally, (it is) when you ‘flatten the curve’ that you start the economic activity. But we cannot continue to not revive the economy,” said Espeleta during EDC’s May 29 teleconference meeting that tackled the Central Visayas Regional Recovery Plan for 2020-2022.
He said that businesses now, especially the micro small medium enterprises (MSMEs), face the challenge of reviving their operations after suffering severe losses due to two months of lockdown.
Based on a report submitted by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE-7) which was presented by the National Economic and Development Authority during the meeting, a total of 2,316 establishments in Region 7 had to temporarily close their businesses during the COVID-19 crisis, affecting 41,520 workers.
Ten percent of the total reported shutdowns were manufacturing establishments (119) and export processing zone locators (64) in Lapu-Lapu City.
Espeleta added that local government units, with its depleting resources, also cannot continue to sustain its financial assistance to the marginal sector.
Although he emphasized the need to ramp up the economy soonest, Espeleta also stressed the importance of preventing the second wave of COVID-19 infections amid the gradual opening of businesses in localities under GCQ.
“We need to revive the economy but owners need to balance safety and profitability and we should warn them that their workplaces should not be the cause of the second wave,” said the EDC-7 chair.
One strategy Espeleta cited to achieve a balance between health and economy is to allow only the high-impact but low-risk establishments to operate in the pandemic period.
High-impact, low-risk businesses are those that provide commerce and employment but do not provide an opportunity for people to gather and possibly cause the spread of the infection.
“There are economic activities that are high-risk because you cannot control people coming in and out, such as malls which are high-risk areas, although it provides commerce and employment,” explained Espeleta. “It is important that we balance life and livelihood.”
In the same meeting, Assistant Secretary Aster Caberte of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) also shared the new initiatives to be implemented by DTI in providing financial relief to embattled MSMEs while also assisting them in “rebooting” their businesses to adjust to the new normal.
One such initiative is its COVID-19 Assistance to Restart Enterprises (CARES) which offers a P1-B Enterprise Rehabilitation Financing (ERF) facility to support micro and small businesses in the country affected by the pandemic.
Under the said program, micro enterprises with asset size of not more than P3-M may borrow between P10,000 to P200,000.
On the other hand, small enterprises with asset size of not more than P15-M may borrow a higher loan amount but not to exceed P500,000.
Another program offered by DTI for MSMEs is a series of free webinars dubbed “CTRL+BIZ: Reboot Now!” which helps MSMEs transform their businesses digitally.
During the webinars, enablers in the e-commerce ecosystem provide their expertise and experiences on how enterprises can take advantage of the digital space if they want to thrive in the new normal.
“The webinars given to MSMEs teach them how to get their businesses onboard an e-commerce platform, how they can maximize their presence in the e-commerce ecosystem because that is the way to go now to be able to survive,” said Caberte. (rmn/PIA7)