Poe seeks Senate inquiry into plight of food, beverage industry during pandemic

Published August 8, 2021, 9:30 AM

by Hannah Torregoza 

Senator Grace Poe has urged the Senate to assess the impact of the community quarantine protocols on micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), particularly in the food and beverage industry.

Poe noted many of those in the food and beverage industry have been struggling to stay afloat since the lockdowns started in 2020.

Due to the nature of the food service industry that involves products with shelf life and a heavy mix of product consumption and service provision, the senator said they were hit the hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic, making them among the top MSME groups gravely affected by the changing and shifting quarantine restrictions.

“While the government’s effort to infuse capital in support of MSMEs and the prioritization of their employees in the vaccination rollout are laudable, we need more long-term and sustainable recovery roadmaps for the foreseeable future,” said Poe in her Senate Resolution No. 817.

With the recent imposition of another enhanced community quarantine in the National Capital Region (NCR), nearby provinces and other major cities in the country, the lawmaker said owners of food establishments are crying foul over the abrupt shift in quarantine protocols with only a day or so to prepare and are left with inventory that would go to waste.

“MSMEs should be part of the equation when we plan the implementation of lockdowns. If we keep leaving them out, it will be harder for our economy to bounce back with not many businesses left after the pandemic,” Poe explained.

“There are also compounding effects that we cannot ignore, especially when, on top of these losses, more workers in the food service industry are losing their jobs,” she stressed.

According to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), 10 percent of MSMEs were forced to shut down as of June 2021 due to lack of sales.

Hardest hit are food establishments where only 20 percent can recover losses as they opted to rely on take-out and delivery orders whenever the government implements heightened restrictions.

“This is our new normal, and it calls for a better response from us. We need to be at least one step ahead, because every lockdown can’t feel like we’re taking two steps back,” she said. [Hannah L. Torregoza]