Re-opening the economy
GO NEGOSYO PILIPINAS ANGAT LAHAT! - Joey Concepcion (The Philippine Star) - October 15, 2020 - 12:00am

Yesterday, I was interviewed on Coffee Break at DZRH where I shared my thoughts on the steps that we are taking to re-open the economy safely and restore consumer confidence. Here are some highlights from my conversation with Henry Uri.

Henry: Ano pong nakikita niyong improvement as we relax our quarantine protocols?

Joey: Habang binubuksan nila yung economy, gumaganda ang sitwasyon. Pero karamihan ng maliliit na negosyante, nawalan talaga sila ng capital at yung market nila, lumiit, kasi yung mga tao na pumupunta sa mga malls ay mas kokonti ngayon. Yung traffic dito sa mga tindahan, retail stores, at restaurants, may social distancing pa rin. Nakikita nila yung infection level mataas pa din. Kaya yung confidence nila na lumabas wala pa rin.

So etong pumapasok nating Christmas season na October, November, December, nakikita natin na lumuluwag talaga yung distansya sa mga public transport. Every other seat, pwede na. Mas madaming pasahero na pwedeng sumakay ngayon sa public transportation.

Nakita rin natin yung WHO naglabas ng statement na etong mga lockdown, hindi dapat yung primary response against the virus. Medyo surprising yung statement ng WHO, pero sinabi ko naman dati sa Presidente nung April that the big lockdowns should shift to granular lockdowns. At ginawa naman nila yun. Focus on granular lockdowns, on the barangays.

Ang problema natin ngayon is ay when the budget will be passed. Yung pera na dapat pupunta sa mga areas that we have to help. Yung suporta sa mga government agencies, papasok na yan para they can help MSMEs in the fourth quarter.

The fourth quarter is the strongest quarter in the year and pwede silang bumawi dito sa Christmas sa mga lugi nila. This is our chance. Pag hindi lalakas benta nila at hindi natin tutulungan ang mga MSMEs, then 2021 will not be as good. We have to bring back the confidence of these entrepreneurs.

Henry: So etong last quarter of the year, eto ang bala natin para sa susunod na taon. Sa mga malls, sa mga tindahan, kokonti talaga ang pumupunta dahil sa takot, kawalan ng pera, or combination of both. Paano mapapalaki ang partisipasyon ng mamimili?

Joey: It’s a combination of both. Syempre, may takot din dyan na lumabas at mahawa sila. Wala silang pera dahil madaming nawalan ng trabaho. At yung negosyo nila, baka buhay pa din pero ipit na ipit dahil madaming bayarin. Yung mga entrepreneurs ng PFA, AFFI, talagang nakita nila na bumagsak negosyo nila.

Maski yung mga large companies ay affected, especially those in the tourism sector. Yung mga hotels, airlines, mga travel agencies, spas. Syempre takot rin ang mga tao pumunta sa ibang lugar. Kailan ma-solve yan? Pag nakita na kontrolado ang infection, makkyumpyansa yung mga tao na lumabas.

Henry: What is your recommendation for this last quarter of the year? Are you recommending na ilagay na natin from GCQ to MGCQ ang NCR o mas maluwag pa, at pairalin ang mga strict health protocols sa commercial establishments?

Joey: That’s what we’re trying to do now. I’m hoping that we would shift to MGCQ in the last two months of the year. The campaign of the private sector on wearing masks, wearing face shield, and all of that.

We have a campaign at Go Negosyo as we mark our 15th year: Let’s save our MSMEs.  Lahat ng mga mamamayan have the responsibility of contributing to that safety, by wearing a mask, a shield, and practicing safe distancing and proper hygiene so that we can save our MSMEs, so we can open the economy safely.

We have to open the economy, but we have to do it safely. I think that is the way forward. Yung private sector, we are into pooled PCR testing with the LGUs. We finished Makati, we are now doing Pasay. Yung mga technologies galing sa Israel na saliva at breath, pumapasok na rin dito. We’re trying to push for trials.

Henry: Nakakuha ng very positive rating ang ating gobyerno sa anti-COVID response, but meron pa ba kayong nakikita sa private sector na gawin or paigtingin pa ang gobyerno?

Joey: Both the private and public sector are working quite well. We are pushing innovations in testing. Everything starts with testing. That will lead into isolating and treating the sick. Kung di mo makita yung infected, how would you do all the other things?

Once we do that and create more visibility, then we can know the level of infection and we can lock down the barangays with high infections. And nakikita natin, sa pooled PCR testing, may lugar na mataas at may lugar na mababa. So that research is being done until today with the Philippine Society of Pathologists.

Hopefully next year, a vaccine may arrive in the Philippines, but we are not sure. We have to find a way on how to co-exist with the virus. The only way is to open the economy safely and make sure that every citizen does their duty by wearing a mask and shield. To me, that is the only way we can co-exist with the virus.

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