Keeping products but losing jobs
CTALK - Cito Beltran (The Philippine Star) - February 28, 2020 - 12:00am

In case you have not been paying attention, many gasoline stations have put up cardboard signs saying they have implemented the third tranche or an additional P1 tax on gasoline as required by the TRAIN 1 law beginning Jan. 1, 2020. If you’re rich that does not matter, but if you’re an average Filipino, well that means additional cost to commute, for deliveries, for services and produce such as fish caught at sea or anything that involves the use of gasoline. Grab, the ride hailing app company, recently announced that their prices will probably spike up toward  July because more drivers are leaving the business due to lower incomes. That’s the politically correct way of saying the additional P1 tax on gasoline, on top of the taxes in the last two years and the horrendous traffic that government fails to address or chooses to ignore has directly affected the majority of Grab cars that run on gasoline.

It seems that all the reforms on tax laws have really been effective… effective in driving business to the ground or out of the country. A couple of international companies have packed up and left the country allegedly due to downsizing or rationalizing operations and manpower. That’s true …in a way, because after CITIRA law comes into full effect, it is now more rational for companies to consolidate in Thailand or within that part of Asia or China where the raw materials, infrastructure and laws are designed for foreign investors and global manufacturers. I hate to be the prophet of doom but there is also a probability that after the imposition of the second round of the Cheaper Medicines Act, it will now be more rational for some pharmaceutical companies to fold up offices in the Philippines to cut their costs and to simply assign distribution agents to sell their products in the Philippines. This would be the only way pharma companies can save their bottomline out of the Philippines after getting hit with a 56 percent mandatory price reduction. Don’t worry, we will still have the medicines but we will probably lose the jobs, the rentals and the taxes that come out of having those firms in the country instead of rationalizing to other countries in the region.

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Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano recently stated that when Congress or the HOR looks into the ABS-CBN franchise sometime in May there is a likelihood if not certainty that will prove that they (ABS-CBN) actually or really bet on other candidates (“Tumaya sila sa ibang Kandidato”).

Was the Speaker suggesting that the network, being a media organization, was not suppose to take sides, or can only side with the administration or was he suggesting that media organizations should not choose and support a particular candidate? As we all know, every citizen and privately owned business is entitled to support any candidate they deem is good for the nation, the city, the community or even for the business. It’s their right. Speaker Cayetano should really be careful calling out such things because there is a TV-radio network that does not bet on candidates but works for a select group of “candidates,” protects and projects candidates and promotes their AGENDA if not propaganda unchallenged and unfiltered. That TV-radio network also operates using public funds and taxpayers money. That network is a remnant of the Marcos Era dictatorship and has never been properly reorganized in order to be a true independent public broadcasting system such as the PBS in America or the BBC in the United Kingdom. Just in case the Speaker does not know what I’m talking about, the TV-radio network is none other than PTV-4 and its allied news agencies under the Office of the President.

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Given the certainty that the Philippine tourism industry will go belly up if we don’t do something drastic or radical, perhaps it is now time to seriously study the suggestion of having four-day workweek or even 4-1/2 day workweek. Alongside the Holiday Economics strategy during GMA’s time. Before you scoff at the idea, better open your eyes and ears and listen to what many experts have been saying about the economic impact of COVID 19. It will seriously create shortages in raw materials, equipment, products most of which are coming out of China. Many countries will be forced to withhold what they used to sell in order to insure their own supply of goods. Such delays and shortages will result in drastic reduction of output and already we are seeing its “overnight” or sudden impact on investor confidence based on fall of global stocks. All these will also come to roost in the Philippines and the worst-case scenario would be recession or cutbacks in production, operations and even work shifts. We will have to restructure, realign or redefine life, work and business as we know it in order to survive in this “new normal.”

Many experts who have pushed for 4 or 4 1/2 day work week point to studies that have shown greater productivity, creativity and better health for individuals with better work-life balance and improved environments in their community. Introducing 4 or 4 1/2 day work weeks would be a proactive step to stimulate people, industries etc., because people with more time tend to do more things instead of just being stuck behind their desks. Besides which, its better to introduce a positive option than a destructive move such as job cuts and termination. A new normal demands a new way of doing things before it’s too late.

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Email: utalk2ctalk@gmail.com

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