By Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat
As countries worldwide are trying to cope economically and prioritizing for themselves, Filipino businessmen have urged government to refocus growth strategy on the domestic market and aim for food security.
This is one of the recommendations of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) as they expressed support to partial lifting of the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) in Luzon after the two-week extension or until April 30, 2020. Luzon, the country’s largest island and economic engine, is home to an estimated 50 million people.
“Refocus growth strategy on the domestic market and aim for food security. With the COVID-19 pandemic putting the global economy and global supply chains in a quandary, it is high time the country develops and takes advantage of its large domestic market. Priority must be given to the development of the agriculture and aquaculture sectors to ensure food security,” said PCCI in a statement.
PCCI, the country’s largest umbrella of business organizations in the country, stressed that the dispersion of downstream processing activities in these sectors will bring development to the countryside, especially the rural areas.
Aside from infrastructure support that include farm-to-market roads, irrigation, post-harvest facilities and other related projects, PCCI said “agriculture and aquaculture sectors must be provided input subsidies and access to research and development and technologies.”
The PCCI has also strongly urged government to leverage on disruptive technologies to help businesses adapt to the new normal. A disruption in itself, COVID 19 has shown the importance of adapting disruptive technologies to efficiently and quickly adapt to rapid changes in the business environment.
“Micro and small enterprises (MSEs) must be equipped to leverage on digital platforms to bridge supply chain gaps. Likewise, farmers, fisherfolks, manufacturers and entrepreneurs need end-to-end logistics platform solutions to ensure that their access to markets is unimpeded,” said PCCI.
PCCI has also batted for more flexible and loan arrangements for MSEs. “Special effort needs to be made further to assist MSEs to overcome financial difficulties. Most MSEs do not have the expertise to tap into formal credit facilities and it is in this regard that PCCI renews its call on the Bangko Sentral, banks and other financing institutions and the Small Business Corporation.
(SB Corp.) to simplify the process and make it easier for MSEs to access loans.”
In addition, PCCI has urged for the elimination of barriers to logistics and movement of labor in essential sectors.
PCCI said that the tight control over the movement of goods have caused delays and cancellations in deliveries and affected the supply of essential commodities in some areas of the country.