MANILA – With the economy remaining open amid the pandemic, the Palace believes this has helped improve investments in the country, with employment rates actually faring better than the same period last year.
“Dahil bukas ang ating ekonomiya, patuloy ang pamumuhunan or investments bagaman tayo ay nasa gitna pa po ng pandemya (As the economy reopens, investments keep coming even we are in the midst of the pandemic),” Presidential Spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque Jr. said in a press briefing on Thursday.
In President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s Talk-to-the-People Address Wednesday night, the Department of Trade and Industry presented data that total investment increased to PHP137 billion, which is 64.65 percent higher than last year’s PHP83 billion.
Roque said employment also improved as 12,013 individuals were employed from January to March 19, 2021.
The employment figure is 13.28 percent higher compared to the same period last year where employment reached 10,605, he said.
Roque said the number of new businesses also increased with 916,163 business names registered in 2020, which is 44 percent higher than the previous year.
Meanwhile, Roque said e-commerce business registrations reached 88,574 before the end of 2020, compared to just 1,700 at the start of last year.
“Talaga naman pong nag-boom talaga ang online selling at delivery ngayong may pandemya. Isa itong halimbawa na meron pa rin pong mga opportunities pati sa gitna ng krisis. (Online selling and delivery is truly booming this pandemic. This is an example that there are opportunities in a time of crisis),” he added.
To help affected businesses particularly the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), Roque said the national government’s livelihood programs continue to provide assistance.
“Mula Enero noong nakaraang taon hanggang Marso ngayon taon, mayroon tayong na-assist na (From January last year until March this year, we assisted) 56,281 MSMEs, nakapag-conduct ng (conducted) 15,653 Negosyo Clinics, nabigyan ng (gave) 377,406 na mga indibidwal ng impormasyon na may kinalaman sa ibat-ibang livelihood opportunities (individuals an information concerning various livelihood opportunities),” he said.
Aside from these, Roque cited the assistance provided by other government financing institutions like the PHP5.28-billion loan from Land Bank of the Philippines under its I-RESCUE lending program where 208 borrowers were assisted including MSMEs, and the DBP Response-MSME Recovery program where PHP12.5 billion were disbursed to 346 beneficiaries.
Roque said the loans guaranteed by the Philippine Guarantee Corporation under its MSME Credit Guarantee Program increased by 360 percent from PHP207 million in December 2020 to PHP952.5 million last month.
As of February 2021, he said the program’s MSME beneficiaries reached 8,839.
In the same press briefing, Department of Finance Assistant Secretary Paola Alvarez relayed the clarification made by Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III during President Duterte’s Talk-to-the-People Address.
Alvarez said the Philippines’ vaccination deployment program budget is still PHP82.5 billion, of which the PHP12.5 billion will come from the General Appropriations Act; PHP58.4 billion from loans from the World Bank (PHP24.3 billion), Asian Development Bank (PHP19.5 billion), and Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (PHP14.6 billion); and PHP11.6 billion from savings and other official development assistance (ODA) arrangements as necessary.
Meanwhile, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority chairperson Benjamin Abalos Jr. in the same press briefing, assured that the Metro Manila local government units (LGUs) are one in enforcing major policies, and has been cooperating and helping one another to control the infection and lower the number of cases.
On another matter, National Task Force against Covid-19 Special Adviser Dr. Ted Herbosa said abolishing the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) and replacing it with another inter-agency body in the middle of the country’s response to Covid-19 would be detrimental to everyone.
Herbosa said “we now know what works and what doesn’t work unlike a year ago” and the current numbers are not indicative that the IATF did or did not do anything amid the nature of the virus and the presence of the new variants. (OPS-PCOO)