Building consumer confidence
GO NEGOSYO PILIPINAS ANGAT LAHAT! - Joey Concepcion (The Philippine Star) - September 17, 2020 - 12:00am

Last Sept. 9, I was interviewed about the state of the economy and how MSMEs can recover from the crisis. Here’s an excerpt from my interview with Ali Sotto and Arnold Clavio on DZBB.

Ali: Ang nais nating pag-usapan ngayong umaga ay kung ano yung maibibigay na tulong ng ating pamaha­laan para sa ating mga negosyante.

Joey: Sa akin, ang pinakaimportante ay buksan ta­laga natin ang ekonomiya natin, carefully. Ang ginawa ngayon ng IATF, hindi na every 15 days mag-aadjust, whether it’s ECQ or GCQ. So it’s now one month.

We are already in September, near the last quarter of the year. Dito pwedeng mabuhay ulit ang mga negosyante kasi Christmas is the biggest revenue generator. Kumikita mga negosyante typically sa last quarter, kasi kapag Christmas talaga lahat ng mga bilihin malakas. So I don’t think the government will move back to ECQ this quarter kasi kung mangyari yan, talagang mahihirapan ang mga maliliit na negosyante.

So itong panahon na ito, dito sila pwedeng bumawi kung bukas pa sila. Kasi karamihan ng maliit na negosyante, especially in the malls, are still closed kasi (walang) kumpyansa na lumabas yung mga tao kasi mataas yung infection level natin. Consumer confidence has to re­cover. However, indicators are showing that the curve is starting to flatten.

Ali: Napansin niyo nga na kailangan nating ibalik yung consumer confidence. Paano natin ibabalik yun kasi nakita po natin na maraming nagsara na restau­rants, kahit hikayatin natin yung mga tao, takot pa rin sila?

Joey: Ngayon, may pooled testing tayo. Nakikita natin na medyo mataas yung incidence level, yung infection level, at least ngayon may visibility na tayo kung saan yung problema. Yung focus ngayon ng government, hindi na mass lockdown, hindi na isang buong region, o buong probinsya, granular localized approach na ngayon. Malaking bagay din ‘yan, kasi at least tuloy pa rin ang negosyo.

So, I think the strategy that the government is doing right now is to allow more testing to create visibility and granular localized lockdown. Ipagpatuloy lang natin yung strategy na yan. Of course, with the participation of the Filipino people. They should wear facemasks and face shields, wash their hands and maintain social distancing. If we don’t do our part, talagang maapektu­han yung economy natin, especially MSMEs. Ang mga MSMEs, kung maubos working capital nila, mahihirapan sila umutang ulit sa bangko kasi may utang pa sila na hindi bayad.

The challenge is access to additional lending. Tumutu­long ang bangko pero in the end, they will look at the risk. So the risk is, will the economy reopen? So as we gradually open up, we have to test more aggressively and we have to quarantine the area that has more infection. That’s the most sustainable strategy.

If the economy does not move, then whatever we do with the stimulus, whatever the banks do, they cannot lend. Bumagsak nga ang interest rates natin ngayon, at talagang mababa, kung may pera ka, wala kang makikitang interest income.

Yung confidence, iba naman yan. That’s dependent sa nakikita natin on the health situation. If consumers are seeing that the infection rate is improving, mas maram­ing tao who will go out and visit the retail stores.

The second most important thing is they have to spend. If they will not buy products or eat in restos, then the economy will not move. Now, that all depends on consumer confidence in terms of health. Confidence also na ‘di mawala yung trabaho nila. Ang kagandahan ngayon, at least ngayong last quarter, maraming tao dyan mga negosyante. They may not recover all their losses, but at least most of their losses.

Ali: Isa pa nating pagtutuunan ng pansin, itong BUYANIHAN o BUY LOCAL campaign. Tell us about this.

Joey: Yun ang programa ng AFFI, yung association ng franchisees, kasama ang DTI at Go Negosyo. We’re trying to tell people na bumili sa local producers ngayong pandemic kasi they’re affected. Exports natin medyo bumagsak. We have to help local brands – whether it’s food or clothing – we should try to buy local to help them.

In the end, pag nagbukas na ang economy, we should start to spend. Many people may have lost their savings, but we have to encourage spending and the spending should be towards local products, para the economy can move.

Ali: Pwede naman umutang pero marami pa rin yung ayaw umutang because of uncertainty. Paano natin mapapacify yung uncertainty?

Joey: At least itong mula September hanggang December, makikita natin yung health situation. Palagay ko sa ginagawa ng government ngayon, sa constant reminder dito sa advertising at mga campaign natin na the basic protocols of the good normal should be followed. The strategy of visibility through testing and granular localized lockdown, lahat yan dapat nakafocus tayo.

Now, the economy and the confidence will come back only if people see that the infection rate is going down. But with the infection going up, what can we expect? Maski ako, di ako lalabas kasi delikado. Yung public makikita din nila na kung bumababa yung infection, that means yung ginagawa ng government at tayong mga Filipino is paying off and dapat ipag­patuloy natin yan. We should not be complacent.

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