ECOP bats for more government support to micro and small enterprises amid COVID-19 pandemic

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 24) – The Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP) appealed on Friday for more government support to micro and small enterprises, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to batter the country’s economy.

ECOP President Sergio Ortiz-Luis emphasized the key role that micro and small enterprises play in the stability of medium and large businesses: “Yung supply chain nila, ‘pagka itong maliliit na ito ay nagsara, ‘yung mga malalaki mape-perwisyo rin.” 

[Translation: If the small businesses close, the supply chain will be affected, thus also hurting the large businesses.]

The head of the employers’ group added that medium and large businesses, who are seen as capable of getting back on their feet after the Luzon-wide lockdown, are already helping out their micro and small enterprise partners to rebound from the heavy losses incurred due to the health crisis.

Based on data from the Department of Finance, around 1.6 million small businesses are affected by the COVID-19 crisis in the country. Some 3.4 million workers in these small enterprises are the most hit by the quarantine.

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Ortiz-Luis worried the lack of government support to micro and small enterprises will continue to hurt their business operations, especially with the extension of the quarantine in Metro Manila, CALABARZON, and Central Luzon regions until May 15.

Kinakabahan kami na kapag hindi tinulungan, maaring hindi na makabalik at maraming mawawalan ng trabaho,” he said.

[Translation: We are worried that if they are not given assistance, their businesses will eventually fold and many will lose their jobs.]

Ortiz-Luis also called out the government to be decisive in implementing their wage subsidy program for small businesses and their workers.

Yung mga tao, hirap na. Kung nag-announce ang gobyerno ng gagawin, sana ay gagawin talaga,” he told.

[Translation: The people are alreaady suffering. If the government announces that they are going to do something, they should really do it.]

The ECOP president pointed out the Department of Labor and Employment’s COVID-19 Adjustment Measures Program which was suspended last April 16 due to depleted funds.

The ₱50.8 billion wage subsidy program was supposed to provide ₱5,000 in cash assistance to workers affected by the quarantine.

The DOF and the National Economic and Development Authority are currently drafting the national recovery program for COVID-19 to address the significant economic losses caused by the coronavirus in the country.

The Philippines is expected to register an estimated loss of ₱767.19 billion, or 3.85% of the gross domestic product (GDP), due to the pandemic, according to the NEDA.

Lawmakers from the House of Representatives are also deliberating the ₱370 billion economic stimulus package bill to aid all those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.