Written by John Carlo Tria
As rising confidence accompanies their careful recovery, many companies in Mindanao are slowly recovering lost ground and innovating to meet the challenges and opportunities of the new normal.
Over the past month, many, like the telecom, BPOs, delivery service companies, and agribusiness enterprises did so, maintaining a customer base and more importantly, setting the stage for their own adjustments as the more relaxed GCQ and MGCQ set in in many areas on the island.
From the ground: Davao
As many observers have recently noted, a review of the COVID-19 situation in Davao City sets it apart from Metro Manila and Cebu.
As the city government has offered free voluntary testing for arriving visitors, and a program to help families with children in school and local farmers , the belief is that the city and region’s economy may recover ahead of Cebu and Metro Manila.
It prepared early measures, developing the capabilities that enable it to manage future spikes in infections, such as the capacity to do test, trace, and treat cases.
But it is the infection and recovery numbers have attracted attention. Based on the local COVID tracker prepared by a private company using official data, its active infections have remained low as its recovery rate is at more than 72% to make, as of June 27, 86 active cases out of a population of about 1.4 million. (https://covid19.davaoct.com/)
This has bred a confidence in the city’s government and economy which may possibly see better economic growth numbers than feared. Already, many activities allowed under GCQ have restarted, helping businesses recover.
This makes the Davao region’s advantage even clearer. With land and seascapes that can produce much of its own food, and international airport and seaport, industrial areas and local tourist spots, it looks like an even more attractive, resilient investment destination.
Monetary developments worth watching
As the Bangko Sentral and Monetary Board have slashed the policy rates to a historic low at 2.25% i believe the call is for banks to also lower lending rates to allow businesses to restructure loans. The last month has seen a bill shock for many who have had to pay loans once again, yet have to pay up despite flat sales.
Critical lessons for future disruptions
A key lesson learned from the pandemic is that food supplies and farm-to-market operations should not be hampered. The recent experience (and common sense) shows that free flow facilitates trade and incomes. We hope that lessons here will lead to efforts and programs to push better agrilogistics. It’s difficult enough for agri commodities like chicken to traverse islands, so efforts must be exerted to ensure the freest flow possible.
This protects vulnerable farmers from uncertainties caused by disruptions. Keeping food prices low manages local inflation and keeps unrest at bay. Many local governments were able to do this and they deserve our commendation.
A vital lesson is to promote local products. Local civil society and civic organizations, and church groups need to work together to take the lead in promoting local businesses and products since this is all about orienting local consumer behavior. Buying local is a caring decision we can and must make. What goes around our communities comes around to benefit us. Including profits and jobs.
As we help many business, and the economy recover, we urge congress to pass important tax reform measures that lower corporate income taxes like the CREATE bill. This, as I wrote before, will help many businesses as they engage their recovery.
Stay safe and follow government guidelines!
Cover image by Maksim Goncharenok on Pexels
Article first appeared in the Manila Bulletin website last July 1, 2020.