COVID-19 Crisis: Trade Secretary Lopez proposes allowing vaccinated people to dine in food-and-beverage joints, and enter personal care service joints during MECQ

Nothing changes the fact that the restrictions imposed on businesses as a result of lockdown or the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) or the modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) caused damage on the national economy in the forms of rising unemployment, added business hardship and the loss of income for the affected employees as the national authorities struggle with the COVID-19 pandemic. The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) declared that the nation’s economy would lose at least P150 billion per week in relation to Metro Manila and other areas being placed under the most restrictive quarantine measure while the Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP) announced that the economy should be reopened to prevent any more economic damage. ECOP already stated that lockdown is no remedy.

For the newcomers reading this, under ECQ and MECQ, dining inside food-and-beverage joints and availing of indoor services of personal care service businesses are forbidden. Restaurants, coffee shops and related food-and-beverage joints are limited to take-out and deliveries. Very recently, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez has a proposal to help the food-and-beverage joints and personal care service providers and literally give more breathing room to consumers who have already been vaccinated. Take note that already the government announced that more than 50 million new COVID-19 vaccines will come into the country in September and October.

To put things into perspective, posted below is the excerpt from the Manila Times report. Some parts in boldface…

Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez is proposing to allow vaccinated people to dine-in in restaurants and enter personal care services establishments in areas under stricter quarantine measures.

In a Viber message to reporters, Lopez said this will help spur employment in those sectors.

Same MECQ (modified enhanced community quarantine) but [I] am pushing for allowing vaccinated to [be] allowed only in these restricted sectors like dine-in and personal care. Because we are saying that in these restricted sectors, those who are vaccinated are safer. So, we don’t expect an increase in severe critical (cases) and should not worsen ICU (intensive care unit) cases,” Lopez told reporters in a Viber message.

We pity the dine-in workers. About one million jobs and P1.5 billion revenues gone per week in the National Capital Region (NCR),” he added.

Lopez said that on top of these, 200,000 jobs in the personal care services sector in NCR were also affected.

“For other sectors, no need for distinguishing because both the vaccinated and unvaccinated are allowed. For example, both vaccinated and unvaccinated are allowed to go to malls or ride public transport,” he said.

“Again to clarify, [vaccinated should be allowed] only in restricted sectors during lockdowns like dine-in, personal care services, and meetings, incentives, conferencing, exhibitions. If it’s not locked down, all vaccine status should be allowed subject to operating capacity,” he added.

Lopez, however, clarified that these should be allowed to operate at a maximum of 20- percent capacity.

“We believe in the vaccine. So, we should believe in the vaccinated. This should also serve as an incentive to those who are vaccinated and to encourage vaccination. With this, we help bring back jobs, open up these sectors,” said Lopez.

He said that once approved, this will be part of the new Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) guidelines.

Metro Manila and other Covid-19 critical areas were earlier placed under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) until August 20.

The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) disclosed that the two-week ECQ will cost the Philippine economy P120 billion and aggravate poverty.

In relation to the details emphasized by Trade Secretary Lopez, the affected businesses within the restricted sectors can be relieved economically and already there are millions of vaccinated consumers available in Metro Manila to come in and support these businesses even though the maximum capacity is fixed at 20% under MECQ. The unemployed and the under-employed impacted by the ECQ/MECQ will finally get the opportunities to be hired and be able to earn much-needed income. That being said, it is a must that we pray in supporting Lopez’s proposal to get approved so that our nation as whole can recover better and that MECQ won’t be too damaging for businesses and workers anymore.  

Speaking of the National Capital Region (NCR), pay close attention as to how Metropolitan Development Authority (MMDA) chairman Benhur Abalos and the members of the Metro Manila Council (MMC) will perceive and react to Lopez’s proposal of allowing food-and-beverage joints and personal care businesses to cater to vaccinated customers at limited capacity during MECQ. Take note that during the last ECQ, it was the MMDA and MMC who approved the restriction on outdoor exercise while businesses and their employees kept losing! Think about how these Metro Manila authorities think. That being said, it is essential to pray to our Lord to enlighten and guide all the government officials so they can do their jobs better and correctly.

Let me end this piece by asking you readers: Do you agree with Trade Secretary Lopez’s proposal to help the affected businesses during MECQ? If you are still unvaccinated, does this recent development encourage you at all to get vaccinated? If you are an owner of a food-and-beverage joint or a personal care services joint, what do you think about Lopez’s proposal in helping you and your employees?

You may answer in the comments below. If you prefer to answer privately, you may do so by sending me a direct message online.

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For more South Metro Manila community news and developments, come back here soon. Also say NO to fake news, NO to irresponsible journalism, NO to misinformation, NO to plagiarists, NO to reckless publishers and NO to sinister propaganda when it comes to news and developments. For South Metro Manila community developments, member engagements, commerce and other relevant updates, join the growing South Metro Manila Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/342183059992673

SMC President Ramon S. Ang clarifies Skyway Stage 3 remains open to motorists

Are you a motorist who needs to go way north, or way south or somewhere in between in the heart of Metro Manila? Here are some good news for you all: Skyway Stage 3 remains open to motorists as confirmed by San Miguel Corporation President Ramon S. Ang.

Very recently, there was confusion when it was announced that Stage 3 of the elevated expressway would close down on March 16, 2021 starting 5PM. Below is the excerpt from the GMA News report…

“In accordance with the Toll Regulatory Board (TRB) directive, the Skyway Stage 3 will be closed indefinitely starting 16 March 2021 at 5PM,” the Skyway Stage 3 management said in a post on Twitter on Monday night.

The elevated expressway will be reopened once all ramps are completed, as ordered by TRB, it said.

“Apologies for the inconvenience. SMC Infrastructure has no choice but to comply,” management said.

However, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) issued an advisory on Tuesday saying the TRB has not issued a decision or directive ordering the closure indefinitely of Skyway Stage 3.

“This is to inform the public that the Toll Regulatory Board (TRB) DID NOT ISSUE a decision or directive ordering the indefinite closure of the Skyway Stage 3 starting 5 p.m. of 16 March 2021,” the DOTr said.

“The Toll Regulatory Board DID NOT ISSUE a decision or directive ordering the indefinite closure of the Skyway Stage 3,” it added.

“TRB’s position is to keep Skyway Stage 3 OPEN for the benefit of motorists,” the DOTr added.

“The TRB is composed of the Department of Transportation, Department of Public Works and Highways, Department of Finance, National Economic Development Authority, and a representative from the private sector,” it said.

“Yes, I have just talk[ed] to [Transportation] Sec. [Arthur] Tugade. He will take care of TRB (Toll Regulatory Board),” Ang told GMA News Online.

As you can see above, things got really confusing and it was a major relief that Ramon Ang clarified that Skyway Stage 3 would not be closed. To put things in perspective, the 18-kilometer long Skyway Stage 3 was fully opened toll-free to motorists this past January and the TRB has yet to approve the proposed toll rates for it.

Now that the issue has been resolved, keep using Skyway Stage 3 for as long as you need it to move around. Please share this article to fellow motorists and other Skyway travelers you personally know. Thanks.

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For more South Metro Manila community news and developments, come back here soon. Also say NO to fake news, NO to irresponsible journalism, NO to misinformation, NO to plagiarists, NO to reckless publishers and NO to sinister propaganda when it comes to news and developments. For South Metro Manila community developments, member engagements, commerce and other relevant updates, join the growing South Metro Manila Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/342183059992673

CREATE bill to boost Philippine economy by cutting corporate income tax and implementing incentives

Yesterday, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez announced that the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises (CREATE) Act is aimed to reduce the corporate income tax which should lead to creating more jobs as well as attracting investments.

Given the dramatic fall of the Philippine economy as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the CREATE bill could be the big solution to boost the economy and pave the way for recovery. For almost a year now, the said pandemic caused a lot of people to lose their jobs and much of their income. A lot of businesses closed down as well.

For your reference, here is a long excerpt of the news release about the said bill published via Philippine News Agency (PNA). Key words are highlighted in bold:

The recent bicameral approval of the game-changing CREATE Act can also provide a big boost to the National Employment Recovery Strategy (NERS) Task Force chaired by the DTI and co-chaired by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), which was signed last Feb. 5 by several agencies.  

“The landmark tax and incentives reform bill that we expect to be signed by the President is expected to bring in (a) massive inflow of investments that will create more jobs, especially as we focus efforts in the National Employment Recovery during this period of the pandemic and beyond. The passing of CREATE will firm up the tax and incentive reforms that will make the investment climate significantly more attractive than the current tax and incentive regime,” Lopez said in a statement.

He said the bill will certainly encourage more investments with the lowering of the corporate income taxes rate from 30 percent to 20 percent for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), and 25 percent for large corporations.

“Modernizing the incentives system likewise makes the incentives such as income tax holiday (ITH), special corporate income tax rates (SCIT) or enhanced deductions (ED), available to industries considered strategic, critical or export oriented,” he added.

The Trade chief said the length of incentives, such as four to seven years of ITH plus five or 10 years of SCIT or ED, will depend on the nature of industry, export or domestic oriented, degree of technology and value adding, and geographical location, with additional years outside the Metro Manila and urban centers.

“There is also (a) longer transition period for those currently granted incentives. Thus, incentives are now made more performance-based, focused and timebound,” Lopez said.

CREATE is a bill certified urgent by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte upon the recommendation of the economic team led by Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III.

Lopez also thanked the legislators at the Senate and the House of Representatives, with Sen. Pia Cayetano and Rep. Joey Salceda, respectively, as principal authors, for the hard work of the committee members in bringing the CREATE bill to fruition.

“The passing of CREATE will unleash the growth potential of investments by removing uncertainties during the period that the bill was under deliberation,” Lopez said. “Based on our estimate and those from Cong. Joey Salceda, CREATE can bring in over PHP200 billion of new investments that can generate 1.4 (million) to 2 million incremental jobs.”

CREATE will help boost investments in the Philippines, which would support the 2021 target of the Board of Investments (BOI) of PHP1.25-trillion investment approvals.

A report by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) had also estimated that the Philippines bucked the trend in Southeast Asia, and had increased its foreign direct investments (FDIs) during the pandemic by 29 percent last year.

Meanwhile, the NERS 2021-2023 is a medium-term plan anchored on the updated Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022 and ReCharge PH by expanding the Trabaho, Negosyo, Kabuhayan initiative and improving access and security of employment.

The strategy also takes into consideration the changes in the labor market brought about by the pandemic and the fast adoption of Fourth Industrial Revolution (FIRe) technologies.

“NERS shall also consolidate all measures, programs, and institutions that influence the demand and supply of labor, as well as the functioning of labor markets,” Lopez said.

Members of NERS Oversight Committee include the Departments of Transportation (DOTr), Tourism (DOT), Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Science and Technology (DOST), Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Agriculture (DA), Agrarian Reform (DAR), Interior and Local Government (DILG), Information and Communications Technology (DICT),  Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Education (DepEd), Commission on Higher Education (CHED), and National Security Council (NSC), as well as the Office of the Cabinet Secretary (OCS), Departments of Finance (DOF) and Budget and Management (DBM), and the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).

DOLE Secretary Silvestre Bello III said: “This JMC (joint memorandum circular) will fortify our collective undertaking as a Task Force working to develop a policy environment that encourages the generation of more employment opportunities, improves employability and productivity of workers, and supports existing and emerging businesses.”

Lopez further stressed the importance of continuing with the calibrated and safe reopening of the economy to allow the country to regain the growth momentum that it had before the pandemic. 

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Thank you for reading. If you find this post engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com