The simplest way to help PH survive a recession
At this time when the economy has been shattered by the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic and local businesses of all sizes are desperate for revenues to keep their enterprises going and their people employed, one of the most patriotic things to do to help save suffering businesses is simply “buy local, shop local, eat local and travel local.”
“We want Philippine consumers to recognize their important role in economic revival and growth, that the simple act of buying local products has tremendous impact on many micro and small business entrepreneurs,” Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez told the Inquirer.
The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has thus embarked on a nationwide “Buy Local, Go Lokal” campaign to help restart the foundering economy that had ground to a standstill for months due to strict quarantine measures to help curb the spread of the highly contagious COVID-19.
The DTI aims to encourage and inspire Filipinos to support micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) by shifting their buying patterns toward the purchase and consumption of local fresh produce and manufactured goods.
Lopez explained the stringent quarantine measures put in place in March and April were painful but necessary to temper the rate of transmission and build up the capacity of the country’s health facilities. It was a matter of lives over livelihood and health over the economy, he said.
But the effect of such an unprecedented policy move is devastating indeed, with the Philippine economy now in recession and with thousands of enterprises closed and millions out of a job.
Thus the challenge now for the DTI, with lockdown measures gradually being eased, is to help bring the economy back to life, partly by reviving consumer confidence and pump vital pesos into the economy.
It will be a long road ahead though as weeks into the general community quarantine, spending remains weak and foot traffic in commercial establishments such as malls is down to around 30 percent.
“There is a strong need to revive consumer confidence and encourage local purchases. Apart from the various stimulus programs to save many businesses as well as save jobs, we need to encourage consumers to buy local, to shop, eat and travel local, to patronize locally made products or services as it creates local jobs, as compared to buying imported goods where one basically supports foreign producers and workers,” Lopez said.
“Hopefully, our campaign will install in all Filipinos some degree of responsibility in reviving the economy,” he added.
The campaign has no fancy gimmicks nor complicated guidelines. Lopez said it would just revolve around the message for Filipinos to support Philippine MSMEs.
“The campaign promotes anything that is Filipino-made, goods and products by our local MSMEs as well as those grown and nurtured by our farmers and growers, and services like food retailing and services. So we shop and eat local. We also travel local to promote domestic tourism—to encourage Filipinos to travel to local places first instead of foreign places, of course, once the quarantine stage allows it,” Lopez said.
One option is to patronize the wide array of products under the DTI’s “Go Lokal!” program, launched in 2017 to promote world-class products made by Filipino MSMEs. These products are now available for purchase online through the DTI’s partnership with Shopinas.
For Lopez, it does not really matter where consumers’ money ends up, as long as it goes into buying, shopping, traveling and eating local. By that act, a Filipino gets to keep his job and an enterprise lives to fight another day.
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