Foreign firms want to see gov’t response to Covid before investing

May 20, 2020

Foreign investors would consider how the government responds to the coronavirus disease 2019  outbreak before investing in a certain country, Marikina City 2nd District Rep. Stella Luz Quimbo said.

Quimbo said foreign chambers have relayed to her their conditions before putting their capital in a country for future investments amid the pandemic during the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines  online forum.

“After talking to the Joint Foreign Chamber (JFC), they pointed out that one factor that foreign investors will be looking out also is how we respond to (the) Covid situation. So, there are other countries like Vietnam – zero deaths. It’s remarkable. Our per capita income is higher than Vietnam, right, but they seem to have a better control over the Covid situation,” she said.

For the government to help businesses to recover from losses due to lockdown measures and for them to avoid laying off workers, Quimbo said the Philippine Economic Stimulus Act bill was filed in the House of Representatives.

The co-chair of the House economic stimulus cluster said the PESA bill would earmark P568 billion to spend on different interventions, such as a P20-billion subsidy for Covid-19 testing; two-month wage subsidies with labor retention clause; interest-free loans, credit mediation, e-wallets and subsidies for education; grants for technical assistance; and structural reforms for economic resilience and push for the “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure program of the government.

She added that with the good balance sheet of the government and the country’s credit rating, part of the P568-billion allocation would be sourced from loans.

The lady lawmaker said the PESA bill would prioritize extending assistance to critically impacted sectors due to the lockdown measures.

“We have about 41 million workers, and of these, 29 million are with the non-essential businesses. These are the businesses that were not allowed to operate during the lockdown. If you just look at that, 84 percent of all economic sectors would be in the non-essentials. If you think about which of the critically impacted sectors, it is really in the subset of the non-essentials,” she said.

Quimbo cited the top 10 sectors that are the target beneficiaries of the bill, among them tourism, trade, land transportation, crop and animal production, construction, and education.

“There’s a listing of sectors, which again forms the basis for who to target under the PESA bill. The PESA bill is very clear. We want that there is a fiscal discipline, so there’s sort of like an amount. This is not a blank check that the Congress is giving to the Executive (branch),” she added.