MANILA – The country’s largest business organization, Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), wants the government to allow the full resumption of businesses amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.

In a statement Wednesday, PCCI said it believes that full resumption of businesses while preventing the spread of the virus is possible as what countries like Vietnam, Thailand, Taiwan, South Korea and European countries have done.

PCCI president Benedicto Yujuico said these countries have sustained fully opened economies while maintaining health protocols like physical distancing and implementing widespread testing, contact tracing and lockdown on specific communities.

“You cannot open a business and limit it to only 30 to 50 percent because they will only lose money and would rather close; you cannot tell a restaurant to open 50 percent because 50 percent is not enough to pay the rent, utilities and employees; you cannot tell a manufacturing company to operate at below capacity and still require it to provide accommodation and/or shuttle services for its workers; and you cannot open businesses, even at phases, without allowing public transportation,” Yujuico said.

He added many of the PCCI members have reported shutting down their operation.

Yujuico said that based on dialogues with PCCI’s local chambers in North and South Luzon as well as in Mindanao, 50 percent have closed down their businesses while those that are still in operation have reduced their employment to 25 to 30 percent.

Yujuico cited Palawan where more than 800 establishments in the tourism sector have stopped their businesses.

In PCCI Taytay, where most micro enterprises are in the garments industry, reported that some 8,000 businesses have ceased their operation, and some 1,000 businesses are operating in limited capacity.

“The almost five months of lockdowns have put more firms at greater risks of permanent closure,” the PCCI chief said.

“Business closures mean drop in taxes and budgetary income, putting at risk the sustainability of public finances and the ability to fund public services, including health and education,” he added.

Yujuico underscored the need to ease lockdowns and full resumption of businesses for economic recovery while ensuring health standards are in place.

PCCI said prolonging the lockdowns could harm the country’s long-term economic future, while people are losing their jobs and families out of money to spend for their basic needs. (PNA)