PCCI presses govt to accelerate vaccine rollout

An army doctor prepares to inject the Sinovac vaccine from China during a vaccination at Fort Bonifacio, Metro Manila, Philippines on Tuesday, March 2, 2021. The Philippines launched a vaccination campaign to contain one of Southeast Asia's worst coronavirus outbreaks but faces supply problems and public resistance, which it hopes to ease by inoculating top officials. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) is pressing the government to accelerate its vaccine rollout and prioritize the inoculation of industry workers to revive the economy as soon as possible.

These are among the recommendations of the business sector presented by PCCI president Ambassador Benedicto Yujuico during the Task Group on Economic Recovery and the National Employment Recovery Strategy (NERS) Job Summit on Saturday.

Yujuico said the government must accelerate its immunization program against the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) as he echoed the business community’s appeal to allow the private sector to procure and distribute vaccines.

He also said industry workers must be recognized as “essential economic front-liners” and be given exemptions or eased requirements in mobility restrictions.

“There is also a need to improve community quarantine restrictions by ensuring that government planning and communications are deliberate, flexible, responsive, clear, and consistent without sporadic changes. Further mobility restrictions must be harmonized and eased,” Yujuico said.

While the country continues to reel from the effects of the coronavirus crisis, Yujuico said the private and public sectors must now work hand-in-hand for the new normal, including shifting to digital systems and addressing concerns on ease of doing business in the country.

“We in the private sector commit to participate in the implementation of the attached strategies and programs of the employment recovery agenda with the view to create a business environment that encourages generation of more employment opportunities, improved access to livelihood and training opportunities to improve employability, productivity, and wellness of workers,” he said.

The business sector also recommended the following to restart economic activities, and restore business and consumer confidence for the period of 2021 to 2022:

* Increase public spending to stimulate demand and supply;
* Safe reopening of the economy in areas with little or no number of Covid-19 cases;
* Facilitate easier access to financing;
* Provide a wage subsidy program;
* Intensify marketing assistance and promotional campaigns of Filipino goods and services;
* Ensure that the private sector is aware of government assistance programs;
* Ensure consultations with the private sector;
* Waive renewal of existing permits and licenses/transaction fees;
* Improve compliance and monitoring of public health and safety measures; and
* Stabilize cost in logistics and raw materials.

On upgrading and retooling the workforce, Yujuico said among the implementable moves the country may take are as follow:

* Capacity-building for digitalization, technology and innovation, and remote working;
* Ensure availability of training; and
* Address the lack of practicum, internships, and field training.

“We need to strengthen linkages between the industry and the academe to maximize potentials and opportunities and to leverage collaborative solutions,” he said.

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