Senator Win Gatchalian has filed a resolution urging economic managers to make an immediate assessment of COVID-19’s impact on the country’s economy.
Gatchalian, vice chairman of the Senate Commiittee on Economic Affairs, raises alarm over the potential serious implications of the global outbreak, taking its toll on more possible job losses. Flag carrier Philippine Airlines recently laid off 300 personnel in the wake of the imposed travel ban in certain countries that led to revenue losses.
There are mounting fears that other companies would follow suit especially in several tourism supply chains which includes hotels, restaurants, land transport service, logistics, and catering to name a few.
Gatchalian is prodding the government to be more proactive and flexible in using economic policy tools, such as a stimulus package to reinvigorate the economy and prevent or reverse a possible economic crisis.
Citing his own internal computation, Gatchalian estimated that the government will need P28 billion for the stimulus package that will be extended to the tourism-related subsectors, such as hotels, food and beverages, transportation, and recreation and cultural activities, among others.
Gatchalian suggests a three-pronged inclusive approach to help pump-prime the economy. First, the government may help affected tourism-related businesses, particularly the micro, small, and medium enterprises, by extending property tax discounts and temporary Value-Added Tax (VAT) relief.
Gatchalian also proposes for the creation of a financing facility that will extend loans and financial support to the subsectors hit by the outbreak.
Lastly, Gatchalian said the government may embark on rehabilitating the country’s cultural landmarks and dilapidated heritage sites to boost domestic tourism which can also provide jobs.
“At this moment, the global coronavirus outbreak threatens to disrupt the world market. It is only prudent for our economic managers to implement policies that will ensure that the domestic demand will remain strong to counter the effects of slowing global economy due to COVID-19,” Gatchalian said.
The lawmaker pointed out that with around nine million tourists forecast to arrive in the country this year, the travel restrictions on China and its territories Hong Kong and Macau, Taiwan and North Gyeongsang province in South Korea due to COVID-19 are estimated to push down tourist arrivals to only seven million.