Closure of 26% of PH businesses alarms DTI

About 26 percent of businesses in the Philippines have closed since the COVID-19 pandemic hit the country, Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon M. Lopez said on Thursday.

Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez

Of the 2,135 companies surveyed, 25.9 percent have closed operations (including temporary shutdown), 52 percent in partial operation, and 22.1 percent in full operation, Lopez said, citing a Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) survey conducted from June 4 to 17 this year to assess the status of business around the country amid the continuing imposition of quarantines. The DTI will run another survey by the end of July.

“Yes, a cause for worry, any business that closes,” said Lopez although he was optimistic that enterprises will bounce back on the back of the country’s good economic fundamentals.

Amid the worrisome level of closures of establishments and joblessness among Filipinos, Lopez said.

“We need to save companies and jobs to restart and recover faster.”

He said that when the economy started to gradually reopen end of May following the hard lockdown in March and April, there has been an increase in the country’s manufacturing and output index.

To help businesses, especially the micro and small, the DTI has extended
financing, training, and webinars to help entrepreneurs restart and stimulate demand.

DTI has tapped ₱1-billion fund from the SB Corporation other sources of financing from the ₱3 Program and from government institutions Land Bank of the Philippines and Development Bank of the Philippines.

Earlier, Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion has advised those enterprises that are not in the essential sector to just shutdown temporarily than continue burning their hard earned savings.

Global challenges

Globally, the economy faces continued challenges, including the possibility of a second wave of COVID-19, and governments should keep their support programs in place, IMF chief Kristalina Georgieva said Thursday.

Activity “has started to gradually strengthen… But we are not out of the woods yet,” Georgieva said in a message to G20 finance ministers ahead of their weekend meeting in Saudi Arabia.

The Washington-based crisis lender late last month downgraded its growth forecasts, and now expects global GDP to fall by 4.9 percent this year due to the deeper contraction during lockdowns than previously anticipated, and only a "tepid recovery is expected for next year."

The $11 trillion in stimulus provided by the G20 nations helped to prevent a worse outcome, but "these safety nets must be maintained as needed and, in some cases, expanded," Georgieva urged in a blog post.

She highlighted measures including paid sick leave for low-income families and access to health care and unemployment insurance.

But the recovery faces risks, she said, including the possibility of "a second major global wave of the disease could lead to further disruptions." (With a report from AFP)