Manila Bulletin : Bongbong seeks aid for ailing firms in granular lockdown areas

21 September 2021

By Mario Casayuran | Manila Bulletin

Former Senator Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr. on Monday, Sept. 21 asked the government to provide firms in granular lockdown areas with cash and tax incentives to help them stay afloat amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Marcos broached the idea during his recent radio interview with veteran broadcast journalist Deo Macalma of DZRH.

“Pag nag-granular lockdown ang isang lugar, walang papasok at walang lalabas sa area na yan (In areas placed under granular lockdown, nobody can enter, nobody can leave the area). Kaya’t talagang walang hanapbuhay (That is why there is no livelihood). Ang mabigat talaga ang tama ay sa mga maliit na negosyo )It is the small business establishment that get hit). Ito yung mga sari-sari store, mga barberya, mekaniko, yung ganung klase ng mga negosyo (These are the variety stores, barbershops, mechanics, among others). Heto talaga yung mga naubos na yung kanilang trabaho (These are the jobs that are lost),” Marcos said.

The government recently announced a shift in its COVID-19 strategy by testing a granular lockdown system for Metro Manila that will last for 14 days and will only feature two quarantine classifications – enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) and general community quarantine (GCQ). The pilot run started on September 16 and will last until September 30.

Marcos urged the government to consider giving cash incentives through wage subsidies to entire firms and individual workers.

“Kaya’t siguro puwede nating pag-isipan muli na bigyan hindi lamang ang indibidwal kundi ang negosyo at magbigay tayo ng tulong kahit cash subsidy muna (Let us think whether we should give not only to individuals but also to firms and give cash subsidy first),” Marcos added.

The former legislator also noted that while providing food packs helps, it would be best for firms to receive cash to pay for fixed operational costs such as water and electricity bills.

“Ang polisiya ngayon ay food packs (The policy now is food packs). Maganda yan pero sana meron din silang hawak na konting pera makabayad sa tubig, kuryente (That is good but It would be nice if they have small cash for water, electricity). Napakahirap kung maputulan pa sila niyan (It will be difficult if their services are cut off),” Marcos said.

He also asked the Department of Finance (DoF) to study the possibility of providing tax relief to ailing businesses since they would surely be incapable of paying taxes due to steep revenue losses.

‘’That is something we can think about na parang tax holiday,” Marcos said.

He added that sudden closures caused by granular lockdowns merit giving additional aid on top of what the government is providing in its current programs.

“That’s why I think we should give them breathing room. Hopefully makapagbigay pa tayo ng economic assistance sa mga MSMEs (Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises) at kung puwede naman pag-isipan natin yung tax holiday o tax amnesty para sa ating mga negosyo (Hopefully we can give tax holiday or tax amnesty to our businesses),” Marcos added.

The Philippine government will roll out the P1.14-trillion National Employment Recovery Strategy (NERS) that aims to provide a subsidy of P8,000 per month to one million workers for a maximum of three months. However, the budget for the planned wage subsidies is still under review.

According to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), MSMEs account for more than 99 percent of registered businesses in the country and provides a total of 5,380,815 jobs or 62.66 percent of the country’s total employment.