The business sector in Negros Occidental has outlined the economic recovery plan for the province to stimulate economic activities, Frank Carbon, Metro Bacolod Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive officer, said yesterday.
He said the proposed Negros Economic Rehabilitation Plan was already forwarded to Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson, and was discussed during the provincial government’s small group consultation with the business sector last week.
Under the proposal, Carbon said the business sector is pushing for a quick restart of the ongoing government infrastructure projects, start other developments with approved budgets and expedite the bidding process for pending ones.
“This is the fastest way to create jobs for thousands of Negrenses. This will give many Negrenses immediate relief from the adverse effects of the necessary health quarantine imposed in order to save lives,” he said.
The sector is also pushing for cash assistance and wage subsidy for one more month even after the enhanced community quarantine in the province had been lifted. “The assistance will help provide for the basic needs of those affected while they look for new jobs or restart their means of livelihood,” Carbon added.
He also said government should assist employees in affected industries to find jobs that are attuned to their skills or learn new ones for other opportunities.
Carbon said local government units will need to assess industries in their areas most affected by the pandemic, such as tourism, travel-related industries, recreational and entertainment, as well as air and land transport, then identify where the new opportunities are, he added.
There is also a need to work quickly to re-capitalize the employers, the small and micro-enterprises that make up 90 percent of the business sector in the province, he said.
“The quicker they can infuse capital into their business, the quicker they can re-open and start hiring and paying employees. Creating more jobs will significantly reduce the need to give out more cash assistance in the long run,” he said.
He also said the provincial government should take advantage of the liquidity support for businesses that is being made available as an opportunity for the province to build up its existing industries.
“Along with stimulating economic activity again, take the opportunity to build back better by using the available resources to support the manufacturers of homegrown products that each municipality or city is famous for. Build up their market, increase their productivity with skills training or provision of technology or, work with them on creating more value for their products,” he said.
He said these support measures can reduce the damage to the economy.
“To jumpstart the economy is to sow hope in people, in families, and in communities. In due time, the resilience of the Negrenses will manifest but first, we have to help them regain their dignity,” Carbon said.*
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