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FEAR V. SLUMP, FOOD CRISIS

THE country is facing economic depression because of lockdowns imposed by the government to control sa Covid-19 pandemic, said Cebu business leaders.

The business leaders also expressed alarm of an imminent food crisis due to the lack of food supply and the lack of money for the people to afford the skyrocketing prices of commodities.

Businessman Philip Tan said that last December, his economic forecast was negative 10 percent Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for the last quarter of 2020.

“The actual computation of the government economic managers is negative nine percent plus on GDP. So, my prediction was bullseye,” Tan said.

Tan, a past president of Mandaue Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI) and management representative to the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board (RTWPB), said that if we will be back to normal and we reach the bottom, there is no other way but to go up.

He said that when this pandemic will temper, and we hit the bottom, the tendency is for the economy to grow. His only concern is if the economy will stagnate and cannot be revived back to a category before Covid-19 hit the country.

“So, while we might hit rock bottom, the question is on when the economy will bounce back,” Tan said

Tan does not believe that those who are engaged in the business of power, water and food are the only ones to survive because these are support to the industry. If the industry will be down, they will be affected.

Tan noted the food crisis that the people are currently facing.

“There is actually a shortage of food right now. Our food security is crucial to the economic recovery. The ordinary people cannot anymore manage to pay for food because their savings are depleted,” Tan said.

He suggested for the government to impose high taxes to idle lands to encourage landowners to make their property productive and increase food production. There are vast track of idle lands.

Earlier, businessman Rey E. Calooy of the Filipino-Cebuano Business Club, said that one basis for declaring economic depression is at least three successive economic recessions.

The National Economic and Development (NEDA) 7 reported that the negative economic growth last year were: negative two percent GDP in the first quarter of 2020; 16.5 negative GDP in the second quarter; 15.5 percent negative GDP in the 3rd quarter; and nine plus negative GDP in the 4th quarter.

The people are encouraged to join urban gardening, or massive food production in the countryside to prevent further food crisis.

For his part, Felix Taguiam, the president of the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI), said that 85 percent of our businesses have reopened.

But he said the problem is the low consumer confidence and consumer spending.

“The people are afraid to go out for fear of contracting Covid-19. But for the past two weeks, the number of Covid-19 cases was increasing. We have to be careful that what happened last year will not be repeated,” Taguiam said.

Taguiam added that authorities need cooperation from the public especially that several people are roaming around the city unmindful of Covid-19 and they wear their mask below their nose.

“I urge the people not to forget the main health protocol like face mask, hand-washing and social distancing so Covid-19 will be eliminated and that will result to the revival of the economy,” Taguiam said.

On the other hand, businessman Bunny Pages said the survival of a businessman will depend on his business venture.

“I said a long time ago, that we are facing the same storm, but we are on board on different boats. So, each one of us will look at our situation,” Pages said.

He said that last March 20, 2020, all businesses were closed. Thousands of workers lost their jobs.

He said they were able to reopen last September 2020. We were able to build momentum.

“Unfortunately, the ones inside the malls failed to pick up due to lack of customers. This might be the result of authorities urging the people to avoid air- conditioned places. It’s better for us that our restaurants are outside the mall,” Pages said.