The Philippine Star : Bongbong seeks aid for ailing firms in lockdown areas

22 September 2021

By The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — Former Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. has 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 radio interview with Deo Macalma of dzRH on Monday.

“When an area is on granular lockdown, nobody goes in or out of the area. So there really is no livelihood. The negative impact is very great on small businesses. The sari-sari store, barber, mechanic, these types of business. These are the ones who really have no work,” Marcos said in Filipino.

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).

Marcos urged the government to consider giving cash incentives through wage subsidies not just to individual workers but also to the firms.

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.

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

“When they are on granular lockdown, perhaps they need not pay taxes since they donst have any business. That is something we can think about, like a 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.

“Thatts why I think we should give them breathing room. Hopefully we can give economic assistance to the MSMEs perhaps we can think about tax holiday or tax amnesty for our businessmen,” he added.

The Philippine government will roll out the P1.14-trillion National Employment Recovery Strategy 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, micro small medium enterprises (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.