Palace welcomes inclusion of PH's largest business group in IATF meetings

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 21 2020 12:23 PM

Maintenance personnel of a mall in Masinag, Antipolo, Rizal prepare the establishment for its re-opening after the 2-month long enhanced community quarantine. Directional arrows, standing and waiting stickers are marked to help customers maintain proper social distancing as disinfection measures continue to be implemented. FILE / Jire Carreon, ABS-CBN News

MANILA -- Malacañang welcomed Friday the call of the Philippines' largest business group for inclusion in policy discussions on the country's coronavirus response so that the private sector can weigh in on economic matters.

The Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry on Thursday called on the government to include the private sector in COVID-19 response meetings for insights on the reopening of the economy.

“We are appealing for the inclusion [of] the private sector in the IATF (inter-agency task force),” said PCCI president Benedicto Yujuico.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Friday the IATF welcomes private groups to join meetings on COVID-19 response.

"Officials of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry can therefore serve as resource persons on matters related to trade, business and the economy in the same way that IATF has invited health experts from different medical associations to give their inputs related to their field of expertise," Roque said in a statement.

PCCI said its members, made up of small businesses and large enterprises, “expressed grave concern on government’s apprehensiveness to fully open the economy."

It also cited the supposed "incoherence in the regulations of the IATF and local government agencies" on business operations.

The IATF, which formulates policies on the country's pandemic response strategy, includes President Rodrigo Duterte's economic managers from the Department of Trade and Industry, Department of Finance, Department of Budget and Management, and the National Economic and Development Authority.

The country has started to gradually reopen its economy after Metro Manila and nearby urban hubs were placed under a strict two-week modified enhanced community quarantine earlier this month.