Amid job losses and consumer appetite depressed by the Covid-19 pandemic, the Federation of Filipino Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc. (FFCCCII) has called on Filipinos to loosen their purse strings.
According to the business group, spending more may help the economy reopen as industries manufacture more goods or provide more services in reaction to increased demands.
During the “Pandesal Forum,” FFCCCII president Henry Lim Bon Liong said it may take time to achieve pre-pandemic growth targets, but that “we have to start now by spending.”
“We also urge banks and the national government to help unleash liquidity to fuel the engine of economic recovery, because we need a stimulus,” he added.
When more money circulates, economic recovery gets the needed momentum in a cycle involving investments and consumption, he explained.
He contrasted the above scenario to the climate of fear and gloom with its vicious cycles of shutdowns or retreats.
The FFCCCII leader also urged banks to extend financing to micro, small and medium-scale enterprises, as well as to big companies that want to expand some more.
“Next is jobs, jobs, jobs. Let us prioritize preserving the existing jobs of our employees by reducing costs and inefficiencies. We don’t want to lay off employees,” Bon Liong said.
“Let this crisis be an opportunity to seek out new ways of doing business, such as e-commerce, so that we can save and even create more jobs for our people,” he added.
The headline inflation at the national level jumped to 4.9 percent in August 2021, from 4 percent in July 2021 — the highest recorded since January 2019. Inflation in 2020 was at 2.64 percent.
Meanwhile, unemployment rate in July 2021 was estimated at 6.9 percent and was at its lowest since the pandemic in April 2020.
In terms of magnitude, there were 3.1 million unemployed persons 15 years old and over in July 2021, lower by 1.5 million than the 4.6 million reported in July 2020.
The July 2021 figure was also lower by 0.7 million than the 3.8 million reported in June 2021.
Other economic indicators like gross domestic product showed the country posting an economic growth of 11.8 percent in the second quarter of 2021, the highest since the fourth quarter of 1988 at 12 percent.
The group cited the need for government to help rein in inflation and to keep basic goods affordable and within reach of poor Filipinos.
Bon Liong said that since 1954, it has always been the federation’s advocacy to pump-prime the economy by encouraging people to spend.
“Let’s help maintain affordable prices and sufficient inventories of basic goods, especially food and now, medical supplies. Likewise, we encourage our fellow entrepreneurs to be more philanthropic, since our less privileged countrymen have suffered more,” Lim said.
“Market forces alone cannot solve socio-economic problems. We need social safety nets from government and philanthropy from the private sector to help uplift the disadvantaged,” he added.
The group said that sectors outside of manufacturing — including agriculture and fisheries — must be extended credit and technical support, including entry into e-commerce.
It added that if companies from other countries like China and Indonesia are able to sell their products in the Philippines via online platforms like Shopee and Lazada, there’s no reason why Filipino companies cannot employ the same formula.
Meanwhile, with the number of Covid cases in Metro Manila on a downward trend, Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion expressed optimism for a “happy” Christmas season.
“The downward trend (on Covid cases) we are experiencing right now is a result of last month’s stricter lockdown. We have proposed the immediate strict implementation weeks ago instead of being closed during the last quarter of the year,” Concepcion stressed.