With the economy remaining open amid the on-going pandemic, the Palace believes that 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,” said Presidential Spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque Jr in a press briefing on March 25, 2021.
In President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s Talk -to-the-People Address last night, March 24, 2021, the Department of Trade and Industry presented data that total investment increased by PhP137-B, which is 64.65 percent higher than last year’s PhP83-B.
Employment also improved, said Secretary Roque, where 12,013 individuals were employed from January to March 19, 2021. The said employment figure is said to be 13.28 percent higher compared to the same period last year where employment reached 10,605, said Sec. Roque.
The Palace official further said that 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, Secretary Roque said that e-commerce business registrations reached 88,574 before the end of 2020, compared to the 1,700 number of e-commerce business registrations at the start of 2020.
“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,” Roque remarked.
To help affected businesses, particularly the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), Roque said that the national government’s livelihood programs continue to provide assistance.
“Mula Enero noong nakaraang taon hanggang Marso ngayon taon, mayroon tayong na-assist na 56,281 MSMEs, nakapag-conduct ng 15,653 Negosyo Clinics, nabigyan ng 377,406 na mga indibidwal ng impormasyon na may kinalaman sa ibat-ibang livelihood opportunities,” Roque said.
Aside from these, Roque mentioned the assistance provided by other government financing institutions like the P5.28-B 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 P12.5-B were disbursed to 346 beneficiaries.
Roque said that the loans guaranteed by the Philippine Guarantee Corporation under its MSME Credit Guarantee Program increased by 360 percent from PhP207-M in December 2020 to P952.5-M last month. He added that as of February 2021, the said 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. Asec Alvarez said that the Philippines’ Vaccination Deployment Program Budget is still PhP82.5-B, of which the PhP12.5-B will come from the General Appropriations Act; PhP58.4-B from loans from the World Bank (PhP24.3-B), Asian Development Bank (PhP19.5-B), and Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (PhP14.6-B); and PhP11.6-B from savings and other ODA arrangements as necessary.
Meanwhile, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority Chairperson Benjamin Abalos Jr, in the same press briefing, assured that the Metro Manila 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 that abolishing the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) and replacing it with another inter-agency body in the middle of our response to COVID-19 would be detrimental to everyone. Dr. Herbosa emphasized that we now know what works and what doesn’t work unlike a year ago, and that the current numbers are not indicative that the IATF did or didn’t do anything but because of the nature of the virus and the presence of the new variants. ### OPS-PCOO