Bilyonaryo Joey Concepcion is “almost certain” President Rodrigo Duterte and the Inter-Agency Task Force will not extend the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) beyond April 30.
Concepcion, who warned that the economy could not absorb a protracted lockdown, said the “street smart” Duterte was aware that if “the economy dies, people’s lives will be affected.”
In an interview with CNN Philippines’ Pinky Webb, Concepcion said: “I don’t think government will extend, as a status quo today, under the ECQ. There will be relaxation, I am almost certain of that.” “If they do otherwise, it wil be challenging for a lot of micro-, small- and medium-scale enterprises (MSMEs)…I’m an entrepreneur, so i know who will make it and who will not,” he added.
Concepcion, who family owns food maker RFM and appliance maker Concepcion Industrial, had aggressively lobbied for the lifting of the lockdown on its original expiry date, April 13. Duterte extended the lockdown by two weeks because the infections and deaths have not subsided and the Department of Health has done very limited number of tests.
Concepcion said while Duterte was correct in prioritizing health, he said government policy should strike a balance with economy.
“The economy has has to come back, social amelioration cannot continue forever. Commerce should continue, we cannot just stay at home for the next months, it will not work this way,” he added.
Concepcion said that while Finance Secretary Sonny Dominguez’s P100 billion offer of guaranteeing loans of MSMEs wad commendable, it would not guarantee the survival of MSMEs beyond the lockdown.
“We have to look at business model and if it is shaky, if they have no money and no market, and if it continues for indefinite period of time, you cease to be viable. You have to close because it will eat up on your personal savings and that will not be good,” Concepcion said..
“In the end, if you don’t operate, whatever money you will get, you are just burning it. Our advise to entrepreneurs is to conserve cash during these times. Of course life is important but if economy dies, lives of people will be affected. Eventually, their health will be affected and hunger will come across,” he added.
Concepcion reiterated his post-April 30 proposal to level down the ECQ to a selective quarantine at the barangay level; allow all factories, services, and restaurants to open while observing social distancing and wearing of masks; and allow public transportation to resume.
“The President is street smart, if he did not lock down very early on like he did, we would be in a mess. In the end, I’m sure the IATF and the President will make right judgment and trike balance on what is good for health and good for economy as well,” he said.