Cebu Chamber calls for measures for gov’t, other sectors to meet 

By: Irene R. Sino Cruz February 29,2020 - 06:15 AM
CCCI President Virgilio Espeleta speaks before a meeting of the business group.

Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Virgilio Espeleta says everybody, including management, labor and government should implement measures to mitigate the negative effects of COVID-19 on the economy. | Irene R. Sino Cruz

CEBU CITY, Philippines — The Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI) calls on business sector and government to implement ways to address adverse effects of COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease 2019).

In a position paper, CCCI cited the confirmed cases worldwide as having reached 76,700 while total fatalities went up to 2,240.

“In view of the urgency and the worsening COVID-19 outbreak, the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI) exhorts all sectors of the business community and the government to unite and work together in taking drastic measures that can contribute to curtail this outbreak and mitigate its associated social, economic and business disruptions,” the CCCI position paper said.

During the general membership meeting held Friday at the Seda Hotel, CCCI President Virgilio Espeleta cited the need for everyone to make sacrifices to help those adversely affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.

“We must make sacrifices. It’s about survival,” Espeleta stressed.

RDC resolution

He said that the Regional Development Council (RDC-7) had agreed to come up with a resolution adopting some of the suggestions contained in their position paper.

Espeleta said that the CCCI position paper only served as a call for the affected sectors to adopt these measures to mitigate the adverse effects of the outbreak.

“Thus, we urge for a multi-stakeholder support and collaboration in finding ways to help each other survive by reaching a consensus on how we could unitedly move forward,” the chamber added.

Management sector

The CCCI also encouraged the management sector “to continue operating even at break-even levels or subsidize operations to keep the business going.”

“It must exhaust all venues to keep their workers in the payroll, instead of resorting to layoffs; e.g. availment of leave credits, allow leave without pay (LWOP), shorter week work, training or upskilling sessions, utilize people on special projects, research, maintenance or renovations.

“We encourage business owners to voluntarily slice profits or dividends for the sake of survival,” CCCI added.

Labor, banking sectors

On the other hand, the chamber called on the labor sector to forego their demands and suspend collective bargaining agreements (CBA) provisions that were non-essentials at this point in time. 

Labor should also help implement cost saving and survival measures such as voluntary leave without pay and reduced work week.

The Cebu Chamber also had suggestions for the banking sector, the industry stakeholders and government.

CCCI also encouraged banks to grant reprieve on amortization and waive interest payments for a six-month period to troubled businesses, especially those that had just been starting but had already been challenged by the epidemic and could barely operate.

Mall operators

Mall operators and other commercial space owners could also grant rental holidays for a six-month period for those opting to close, or a cut on rental rates for tenants sustaining losses due to very low traffic.

Utility companies could also help by either suspending some charges or reducing rates or offer moratorium on late payment penalties or notice of disconnection.

The industry players could also work together to help each other.

 Appeal to gov’t

The chamber also called on the government to further devise ways to help businesses survive the crisis by supporting the affected industries, especially the small, medium enterprises (SMEs). 

These could include stimulus package, tax rebates and incentives, and loosening of some financial regulations, specifically a lenient tax regulation to affected businesses.

“Undoubtedly, the battle against the COVID-19 will be very costly; but in the spirit of responsibility, solidarity and cooperation, we must make our own sacrifices and take immediate action to protect the vulnerable sector and support the disadvantaged communities of our country in this trying time,” the chamber concluded./dbs

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TAGS: Banking, CCCI, Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Coronavirus Disease 2019, COVID-19, Espeleta, government, labor, management, position paper

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