PCCI seeks waiver of license fees, wage subsidies during pandemic

Louella Desiderio - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — The country’s largest business organization wants government to consider waiving the renewal of existing permits and licenses, providing wage subsidies, and improving the vaccine rollout to start recovery and enable job creation.

In a speech during the National Employment Recovery Strategy Pre-Summit Dialogue for Businesses, Philippine Chamber Commerce of Industry president Benedicto Yujuico said the business sector would want the government to waive the renewal of existing permits and licenses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Let’s reduce the transaction fees. Let’s have a moratorium on expiration of existing permits and licenses,” he said.

He said a wage subsidy program would also be welcomed by businesses.

“The wage subsidy would provide some relief for businesses in paying employees’ compensation and allow for some savings,” he said.

Yujuico called for the faster and more efficient implementation of the government’s vaccination program, as well as effective promotion and proper education on vaccines to encourage more individuals to be inoculated.

He also said the government should provide incentives to businesses to encourage compliance and to reduce additional operational costs for undertaking health and safety measures.

To facilitate labor market access, businesses recommend providing entrepreneurial and business startup assistance or livelihood kits, as well as training programs that include e-commerce and digitalization.

With students unable to undertake practicums, internships or field training due to the pandemic, businesses recommend finding alternatives and issuing policy guidelines that would minimize the negative impacts to the quality of graduates and delays in graduation.

Businesses are also urging the government to come up with a sectoral skills framework that would be responsive to the fast-changing skills requirements of industries and to provide incentives to retain the labor force in the country.

Yujuico said the private sector should be made aware of government assistance programs, the registration process, eligibility criteria and mechanisms and this may be done through cooperation with business and industry associations.

He added there should be consultations with the private sector in policy and implementation to ensure proper targeting of beneficiaries and sufficiency of any assistance.

In the medium term, he said continued support to the micro, small, medium sized enterprises and cooperatives through capacity-building, improved access to financial services and solutions, as well as facilitating acquisition of machinery and equipment would be needed.

Businesses also want the government to mandate and practice local preference in procurement, as well as to streamline processes, requirements and fees, and adopt e-commerce for ease in doing business.

Yujuico said the government should likewise improve the healthcare system and provide support to COVID-19 patients.

In the long-term, he said more investments would have to be made to improve infrastructure, internet connectivity, and transportation.

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