By Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat
The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) yesterday called on other regulatory agencies to ease payments of amortizations, interest rate and for malls and building owners to give discounts to the lease rates of their tenants during the community quarantine period.
DTI Secretary Ramon M. Lopez said he is going to discuss this with other government agencies to grant reprieve to affected Filipinos and businesses in their payments of mortgages and rents falling due in March and April.
“We are going to recommend to the Department of Finance and the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas,” he said.
Lopez said with the implementation of community quarantine in Metro Manila, there will be fewer shoppers in malls and business could be slow.
“Tenants and retail shops shoulder the high operating cost so we call on mall owners to give reprieve to their tenants because the rents are also expensive,” he said.
For the informal sector from outside Metro Manila but doing business in the metro, Lopez advised them to conduct their business in their areas and refrain from going to Metro manila.
He also encouraged big companies to temporarily house their workers who are living outside of Metro Manila in beds paces or in one area near their workplace.
“The general principle is to minimize movement,” he said.
During the community quarantine period, which implementing guidelines are still being finalized by the inter-agency task force on COVID-19, movement of cargoes such as food and non-food are still allowed.
Likewise, stores, restaurants and factories will remain open although employers will have to adopt flexible working arrangements.
On the long queues in supermarkets, Lopez said that mall owners must ensure social distancing. Depending on the size of the supermarket, owners must only allow a maximum number of people inside so as to avoid overcrowding.
While there is no limit on the goods for sale to each customer, the DTI chief stressed that only two bottles of alcohol are allowed per customer. Price freeze took effect on basic goods immediately took effect as soon as President Duterte declare a state of public health emergency in the country.
“Hoarders are the reason for the shortage,” Lopez said as he stressed that there is enough supply of goods as assured by manufacturers as long as people will not panic buy.
Lopez further said that once the implementing guidelines of the community quarantine is done, the IATF will meet everyday to review the guidelines. There will be consultations with the stakeholders and business, he vowed.