Zambo biz group suggests measures to cushion local economy

April 09, 2020

ZAMMBOANGA CITY -- The Zamboanga City Chamber of Commerce and Industry Foundation, Inc. has proposed measures to cushion the effect of the coronavirus 2019 pandemic to the local economy.

“Being the voice and conscience of business and commerce in Zamboanga City, we are obligated to bring to the attention of our government, authorities and beloved leaders the plight of businessmen, especially those in the medium, small and micro enterprises,” said Pedro Rufo Soliven, ZCCCIF president.

Soliven said the proposed measures are contained in a resolution the Chamber’s Board of Directors has approved in a meeting March 31.

One of the ZCCIFI's proposals is for the Banko Sentral to direct private financial and banking institutions to extend by at least one year, for every month of quarantine, all loans whose maturity period and due date fall within the year 2020.

The group said the extension would allow businessmen and borrowers to marshal resources in settlement of their loans in these very financially challenging and difficult times.

It also requested the BSP to direct all government and private financial and banking institutions to "lower, or at the very least freeze, lending interest rates of all loans, to prevent escalation of interest rates at this time and to increase the loanable amount from the appraised value of collateral to allow borrowers to obtain more funds".

The measure, it said, would help "pump-prime the economy".

ZCCIFI has also requested utility providers--such as electricity, water, telecommunications, and internet--to extend the due dates of bills for four months for bills falling due in March and April 2020.

It has also requested the city government to "waive business taxes for all businesses for one year to take effect this 2020 until December 31, so that businesses can channel funds to aid their employees in need, purchase personal protective equipment, and rebuild their businesses.

ZCCIFI also wanted the local government to waive real property taxes for all commercial and industrial properties, especially the small businesses for the year, and to decrease land taxes by 20 percent for the next three years.

The group has also asked the Department of Education to "move all primary and secondary school openings to September, or align and synchronize it to the opening of tertiary educational institutions, so that parents can rebuild savings for enrollment, and students and teachers can remain in quarantine until the threat of Covid-19 has passed".

Mayor Maria Isabelle Climaco-Salazar placed the entire city under enhanced community quarantine on March 18 in order to slow the spread of Covid-19 and allow the local government to institute preventive measures.

Salazar issued another order on March 24 declaring more stringent quarantine measures to further restrict the movement of people within the city.