Cebu biz groups appeal for financial support to disrupted firms, MSMEs
CEBU CITY, Philippines — At least six business groups in Cebu made a request for the government to provide financial assistance to members of the business community severely impacted by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, particularly for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).
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), Philippine Retailers Association -Cebu Chapter (PRA – Cebu), and the Hotel, Resort, and Restaurant Association of Cebu Inc. (HRRACI), in a joint statement, ‘strongly urged’ public officials to help displaced workers and businesses.
“(We) are strongly appealing to the Government of the Philippines to mobilize financial support to the workers of businesses affected as well as to the ailing MSMEs disrupted by the ongoing enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in Cebu City during the COVID-19 Pandemic Era,” portions of the statement read.
The business community’s resolution was also sent to the Regional Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (RIATF-MEID) and the Office of the Presidential Assistant for the Visayas (OPAV).
Business groups in Cebu lamented the prolonged ECQ imposed in Cebu City, the capital of Cebu province which is also considered as the hub of economic and commercial activities in the Visayas area.
“The reclassification of Cebu City to ECQ since June 15 has once again dampened the confidence of the already beat and bruised business community especially the MSMEs,” the groups said.
“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,” they added.
The statement also said that previous financial assistance provided by national government agencies to affected enterprises and workers was not enough, especially that Cebu City was reverted back to the strictest form of community quarantine since June 15.
“After the end of the Department of Labor and Employment’s (DOLE) COVID-19 Adjustment Measures Program (CAMP) last April 15, which benefitted only 16 percent of the total affected workers in the tri-cities of Cebu, Mandaue, and Lapu-Lapu, the Social Security System (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,” it said.
“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 deserves better treatment from the very government whom they have religiously remitted substantial taxes,” they added.
The national government’s anti-coronavirus task forced decided to reimpose ECQ in Cebu City until July 15 due to the surge both in the new cases of COVID-19, and patients needing hospital care.
With ECQ back, it prompted several business establishments in the city to suspend their operations once again. /dbs
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