THE GOVERNMENT on Monday, Aug. 31, allowed more businesses to operate. — EN.WIKIPEDIA.ORG

By Jenina P. Ibañez, Reporter

THE Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) anticipates improvement in economic activity and employment in the fourth quarter after some easing of lockdown restrictions.

“I am particularly relieved regarding the recent announcement of the government last Monday, Aug. 31, allowing more businesses to operate. This is a good move in the right direction, and will definitely provide a much-needed boost to the level of economic activity and employment,” PCCI President Benedicto V. Yujuico said in the online Metro Manila Business Conference on Thursday.

More businesses and public transportation were allowed to operate with limited capacity in areas under general community quarantine.

These sectors include gyms, drive-in cinemas, review centers, dermatological clinics, and personal care services. Internet cafes may reopen under the guidance of their local government units.

Metro Manila and surrounding areas had reverted to a stricter lockdown in the first half of August after the rise of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases overwhelmed the healthcare sector. After this was lifted, retailers said that they expect some improvement in consumer spending, but noted that it will still be well below pre-pandemic demand.

The country’s largest business organization also supports the lengthening of the quarantine status to one month from the previous two-week cycles, adding that the move will help business planning.

“This is very important, particularly for those in the manufacturing sector, which have long lead times from receiving raw materials to delivery of finished products,” Mr. Yujuico said.

PCCI had previously criticized the government response to the pandemic. Mr. Yujuico, in an online event on Aug. 20, said the chamber asked for the reopening of public transportation with physical distancing measures, increased credit facilities for small businesses, regulatory relief measures from the central banks, and economic stimulus bills.

“Despite our persistent call for a holistic approach that would address the need to immediately restart the economy, and at the same time, ensure compliance with health protocols, it seems we have yet to see a coherent game-plan that will hold back the continued downward spiral of the economy,” he said.