Biz groups appeal for support for MSMEs, displaced workers
Ehda M. Dagooc (The Freeman) - July 11, 2020 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines —  Six big business groups in Cebu are calling on the government to provide financial aid for displaced workers, and micro-small and medium businesses affected by the pandemic.

The Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI), Mandaue Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI), Cebu Filipino-Chinese Chamber of Commerce (CFCCC), MEPZCEM Chamber Inc. (MEPZCEM); and the Philippine Retailers Association (PRA) Cebu Chapter and the Hotels, Resorts and Restaurants Association of Cebu (HRRAC) have made a joint appeal to the government, in behalf of the business sector and community of Cebu, requested the Philippine government to mobilize financial support to the workers of businesses affected as well as to the ailing MSMEs disrupted by the on-going enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in Cebu City during the COVID-19 Pandemic Era.

The formal appeal indicated that the reclassification of Cebu City to ECQ since June 15 has once again dampened the business confidence of the already beat and bruised business community especially the MSMEs.

“Businesses that were allowed to reopen during our brief general community quarantine (GCQ) status are now forced to close again because of the rising cases, with losses building daily. While the business sector very much understands and agree that public health comes first during this pandemic, this continued ECQ in Cebu City has left us with no choice but to either let go or keep employees in various modes of flexible arrangements as we close business operations either temporarily or permanently,” it said.

“We are calling for the government to now help alleviate the condition of our MSMEs and the distressed workers of our companies during this ECQ period in Cebu City through another round of financial assistance. We also underscore the need to include packages to benefit not only the micro, small but also the medium and large enterprises that are not spared from the losses brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic especially on those industries not considered essential under the IATF guidelines such as those in the hospitality and tourism sector, services including professional and membership organizations, and some industries,” the group said in its formal joint appeal.

After the end of the Department of Labor and Employment’s (DOLE) COVID-19 Adjustment Measures Program (CAMP) in April 15, which benefited only 16 percent of the total affected workers in the tri-cities of Cebu, Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu, the Social Security System’s (SSS) Small Business Wage Subsidy (SBWS) program had only covered for the wage subsidy of a portion of the affected employees of small businesses for the months of April and May only.

“With Cebu City having spent so long in ECQ, the aforementioned programs are simply not enough to give our displaced workers, entrepreneurs and business owners economic relief, most especially those who have not received any assistance whatsoever. Our workers play a vital role in our economy. Our MSMEs have been the backbone of the Philippine economy. Our business community in the non-essential but productive sectors deserves better treatment from the very government to whom they have religiously remitted substantial taxes. Therefore, on behalf of the business community, we are requesting the national government to mobilize and provide financial assistance to the workers, MSMEs and non-essential sector displaced by the ECQ from June 15 to present,” it added.

According to the group, the appeal is made with utmost intention of helping the most disadvantaged businesses and people in this time of crisis, and uplifting the spirit of Bayanihan as together, “we heal as one.”

Copies of this joint appeal are sent to the national government through the Regional Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease (RIATF-MEID), Office of the Presidential Assistant for the Visayas.

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