Business group hopes return to Alert Level 3 will be short

Warren de Guzman, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 03 2022 05:03 PM

Economic frontliners line up outside the Lucky Chinatown Mall in Manila during the rollout of the Sputnik V vaccine for the A4 category priority group on June 8, 2021. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News
Economic frontliners line up outside the Lucky Chinatown Mall in Manila during the rollout of the Sputnik V vaccine for the A4 category priority group on June 8, 2021. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - The Federation of Filipino Chinese Chambers of Commerce & Industry Incorporated said it hopes the return of Metro Manila to Alert Level 3 will be short as it will diminish business activity. 
 
“Definitely going to a higher alert level is going to reduce our business. Currently what we are talking about is from 50 to 100 percent utilization in the socialized businesses like restaurants and mall stores, it is going to drop down to 50 to 30 percent,” said George Siy, FFCCII chairman. 

Siy said it was possible for more businesses to close down because of this return to a higher alert level. 

He said many businesses were already recovering thanks to the easing of restrictions in the past months, and many were looking forward to Alert Level 1 this January.

Smaller businesses, however, which do not have enough capital may close again if tighter restrictions are kept for a longer time, he said.

“So if it is just 2 weeks, or 2 weeks, or maybe 3 or 4 weeks, with something they can look forward to as ending soon, they will stay. But if it is longer, than many of them will continue to close again," Soy said.

“It is a very sad situation for them, they took the entrepreneurial leap and they couldn’t sustain," he continued.

Siy however backed what he said was the government’s “calibrated approach” to the new surge. 

“The good thing is they are not making it indefinite. They are now doing it in two week segments,” Siy said. 

He added that businesses are hoping that the omicron variant, which is believed to be causing the new surge, will not be as severe on people’s health as previous variants of COVID-19. 

Meanwhile BDO chief market strategist Jonathan Ravelas said he is cautiously optimistic that the quick response of government to raise the alert level will preserve the momentum of the economic recovery seen in the fourth quarter. 

But he said the trajectory of the economy will be determined by much more than just new COVID variants. 

"What could go wrong in 2022? New virus variants, inflation, geopolitics, and overextended markets. What could go right in 2022? Peaceful elections, better pandemic management, revenge spending, and infrastructure spending,” Ravelas said. 

The Philippine economy grew at a faster-than-expected pace in the third quarter, leading multilateral institutions to raise their growth forecast for 2021. 

However, many analysts said the risk of new surges amid the low vaccination rate of the country, clouded the outlook. 

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