MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Grace Poe is urging the Senate to assess the impact of community quarantine protocols on micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), especially in the food and beverage industry that has been struggling to stay afloat.
“While the government’s effort to infuse capital in support of MSMEs and the prioritization of their employees in the vaccination rollout are laudable, we need more long-term and sustainable recovery roadmaps for the foreseeable future,” said Poe in filing Senate Resolution No. 817.
In 2018, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) recorded a total of 999,342 MSMEs in the country. Recently, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) reported that 10 percent of MSMEs were forced to shut down as of June 2021 due to lack of sales.
Poe’s resolution stated that due to the nature of the food service industry that involves shelf life of products and a heavy mix of product consumption and service provision, it is among the top MSME groups gravely affected by the changing and shifting quarantine restrictions.
She said food establishments were hit the hardest with only 20 percent able to recover their losses as they rely on take-out and delivery orders whenever mobility restrictions are implemented.
Owners of food establishments have also cried foul over the abrupt shift in quarantine protocols with only a day or so to prepare, leaving them with inventories that go to waste.
“MSMEs should be part of the equation when we plan the implementation of lockdowns. If we keep leaving them out, it will be harder for our economy to bounce back with not many businesses left after the pandemic,” Poe said.
“There are also compounding effects that we cannot ignore, especially when, on top of these losses, more workers in the food service industry are losing their jobs,” she stressed.
According to the 2018 Census of Philippine Business and Industry, 377,227 workers were employed in restaurants and mobile food service activities.
“This is our new normal, and it calls for a better response from us. We need to be at least one step ahead, because every lockdown can’t feel like we’re taking two steps back,” said the senator.
— Cecille Suerte Felipe
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