Businesses now ready to reopen

Published February 25, 2021, 6:00 AM

by Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat

Regardless of quarantine

Regardless of the quarantine level that the government will decide on, businesses said they are now ready to reopen safely and are confident of achieving their growth targets for the year.

In a virtual forum on “Actions and Solutions to Safely Reopen the Economy” organized by the Management Association of the Philippines, the retail, IT-business process management, and the hotel and restaurant sectors presented their readiness to reopen their businesses after almost a year of strict quarantines.

Manolito “Lito” T. Tayag, chair of the IT-Business Process Association of the Philippines (IBPAP), said they have already adjusted to the new normal and is determined to keep their recalibrated growth targets for the year of 3-5 percent growth.

A motorcyclist travels along a deserted road in Bonifacio Global City, Metro Manila, the Philippines. (Photographer: Geric Cruz/Bloomberg file)

Whether it is modified general community quarantine, the most relaxed level, or the restrictive general community quarantine, Tayag said “Our growth projection will stay, even our recalibrated targets,” he said.

Tayag said that the recalibrated growth this year 3-5 percent is expected to translate to additional 50,000 new jobs for the industry, which currently employs 1.3 million young Filipinos. The industry posted a flat growth in 2020.

He also said that there are new investors, particularly in the health and software sectors, in all the sectors of the IT-BPM industry whether they are new or expansion of existing players. 

The only challenge, he said, is the need to reskill at speed and at scale the local manpower because of the new accelerated technologies their global clients had been forced to adopt during the pandemic.

Thus, he urged for strong collaboration with the academe, government and all industry stakeholders to train workers.

Atty. Eugene Yap, chairman and president of the Hotel and Restaurant Association of the Philippines (HRAP), said that they have already learned to leave with the restrictions even as he expressed hope the government will heed the private sector call to ease up quarantine restrictions.

Since businesses have no control over these restrictions, he said that his industry, one of the hardest hit by COVID-19 pandemic, has not stopped during this pandemic as players  spent so much in renovation and other preparations for the new market.  

“Nobody is sitting down,” he said stressing that HRAP members are down there planning and training workers.

“Businesses should begin operating soonest because there is no better time than now,” said Yap, who is the general manager of Bayview Park Hotel. Tourism accounts for 12.7 percent of GDP and employs 5.365 million based on the 2018 data of the Department of Tourism.

Rosemarie “Rose” Ong, president of Philippine Retailers Association, said the only way is to recover is to “reopen the economy.” She said that with or without the restrictions “maybe we start reopening and trust that people are very much aware of the protection needed.”

Ong, whose family owns the Wilcon, the country’s leading chain of construction material stores, said that even during the lockdowns the construction business flourished because workers shifted their budgets to home renovations and improvements.

She just expressed hope that the Inter-Agency Task Force will elevate the retail industry’s frontliners in the list of priority for the vaccines because they are now at number 10.