A LAWMAKER filed a resolution asking the Senate to assess the impact of lockdowns on micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), especially in the food and beverage industry, and come up with recommendations for their recovery.  

“MSMEs should be part of the equation when we plan the implementation of lockdowns. If we keep leaving them out, it will be harder for our economy to bounce back with not many businesses left after the pandemic,” said Senator Mary Grace S. Poe-Llamanzares in a press release on Sunday.  

She cited the Department of Trade and Industry report that as of June, 10% of MSMEs have been forced to shut down.   

The Philippine Statistics Authority’s 2019 List of Establishments show 99.5% of businesses in the country are MSMEs. Accommodation and food services are the second biggest sector for MSMEs.   

“While the government’s effort to infuse capital in support of MSMEs and the prioritization of their employees in the vaccination rollout are laudable, we need more long-term and sustainable recovery roadmaps for the foreseeable future,” said Ms. Poe-Llamanzares in her Senate Resolution No. 817.  

The resolution stated that due to the nature of the food service industry where inputs have a short shelf life, it is among the top MSME groups gravely affected by switching quarantine restrictions.  

Defend Jobs Philippines said that 80% of food establishments were severely hit by the lockdown implemented in March, which restricted dine-in services. The group said only 20% were able to recover their losses through take-out and delivery services.  

Ms. Poe-Llamanzares said that on top of these business losses, more workers in the food service industry are losing their jobs.  

According to the 2018 Census of Philippine Business and Industry, 377,227 workers were employed in restaurants and mobile food service activities.  

“This is our new normal, and it calls for a better response from us. We need to be at least one step ahead, because every lockdown can’t feel like we’re taking two steps back,” the senator said. — Alyssa Nicole O. Tan