Trade adviser shoots down Lapid measure

September 28, 2021

Government should find a way to allow more businesses to resume operations instead of coming up with measures that burden business owners, Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion said.

Senator Lito Lapid had proposed to provide 28 paid leaves to workers who will undergo quarantine or when exposed to dangerous chemicals which Concepcion opposed.

During the Daily Tribune’s digital morning show Gising Na! Concepcion reiterated that it will be hard for business owners, especially micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) to handle more expenses without a consequent increase in productivity amid the ongoing health crisis.

“As we all know, the private sector had shouldered the procurement of the 17 million doses of AstraZeneca and Moderna for workers and their families. We are the only nation in the world where business owners shoulder the jabs for their workers. In other countries, they pay for their citizens. So it’s a big burden for the private sector,” Concepcion noted.

On top of that, Concepcion added that employers shoulder regular testing for employees. “So to sum it up, business owners will not bear additional fees anymore, as their businesses are intermittent for 18 months now. Even big companies will not conform to that,” he said.

Lapid’s proposed Senate Bill 2404 entitled “Paid Quarantine Leave Benefit Act,” seeks to provide workers a paid leave during the entire period of isolation.

The measure also stated that the Social Security System (SSS) and the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) will reimburse employers of the quarantine leaves.

Firms that refuse to implement the quarantine leave benefit will be fined at least P30,000 and a maximum of P200,000 if the proposed law will become a full-pledged statute.

MSME to get hit
Concepcion said the proposal will impact on MSME as their funds rely on sales.

“Large corporations can sustain their businesses which are backed by bank financing but how about the MSME?” he asked.

MSME can apply for loans in banks but their credit line is not as huge as big corporations. Some MSME are also start-ups, “and 99 percent of businesses in the Philippines are MSME,” Concepcion added.

“Yes, some of the MSME are exempted from the proposed law, but how about those SME who are employing at least 20 people? They are the ones which will be affected by the proposal. What we need now is to have the businesses revived by opening up the economy,” the Palace adviser explained.

Amid the pandemic, Concepcion noted that more businesses should emerge to generate jobs. “The problem is how can we hire more people if our enterprises are shutting down? We have to find a way not to burden our MSME even more at this time. We need them to give the chance to recover in any additional contraction, like 28 additional days of leaves. It’s not bearable for business owners,” he stressed.

Asked for comment, a source from the office of Senator Lapid advised Concepcion to secure a copy of the proposed bill to understand what the senator wanted which is to improve the condition of the Filipino workforce.

The Lapid camp also pointed out that beneficiaries of the measure will not be all employees but only those who undergo quarantine procedures or who are victims of accidents due to the company’s negligence.

The latest unemployment rate in the country is at 6.9 percent, translating to 3.1 million unemployed persons.