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Looking back at 2020

/ 05:18 AM December 29, 2020

Two more days and 2020 will be history.

This year is a phase in life that many may prefer to forget because of the challenges and problems it brought to the Philippines and the rest of the world.

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As in times past at the beginning of a year, majority of Filipinos looked with optimism at 2020. The usual coterie of geomancers gave glowing predictions about the country’s growth path.

Unfortunately, things turned out differently.

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Although there were reports in January that the gastronomic idiocy of some people in Wuhan, China, had resulted in the emergence of a new coronavirus, the government did not think it was a cause for alarm.

It treated the virus as a medical problem that would eventually run its course after a certain period of time.

With that smug attitude and despite the World Health Organization’s warning about the spread of that virus that causes COVID-19, hundreds of Wuhan residents were allowed by the authorities to travel to Boracay and other tourist spots in the country to celebrate the Lunar New Year.

It was only in the middle of March that the government realized the gravity of the situation and ordered the implementation of quarantine measures in varying degrees to prevent the spread of the virus.

Nine months after, those measures are still in force in some parts of the country.

With the forced suspension of normal personal, social and business activities, the country went into recession and, in the process, millions of Filipinos including those working abroad were (and continue to be) thrown out of job.

Amid this gloomy scena­rio, however, the government thinks the worse is over and the country can look forward to a resurgence in economic activities in the coming days.

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For some private economists, that hoped for economic rebound may not come until the second quarter of 2021.

In a survey conducted by think tank Japan Center for Economic Research on nine economists, they said they expected the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) to go down to 9.6 percent in the fourth quarter.

Taking into consideration the economic performance in earlier months, they foresee a 9.8-percent drop in GDP for this year, which would be the country’s worst in seven decades.

Based on this forecast, it looks like tough times may be ahead of us. Barring any natural or man-made calamities or debilitating events, the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel may be seen only in March next year.

While Congress has enacted three laws that aim to, among others, revive the economy, their intended results may take some time to come to fruition.

Going by past experience, it would take at least two months for the government offices tasked with accomplishing that objective to come up with the rules and regulations on the release of the funds allocated by those laws to their intended beneficiaries.

And if they do that fast, hopefully, the determination of which businesses shall be entitled to financial assistance would not be attended by personal or political considerations that often mar activities that involve the distribution of government funds.

Until that day comes, businesses would have to be on their own and not look to the government for salvation.

Their owners or managers have to think out of the box in looking for new sources of capital and in adapting to the requirements of the new normal of doing business.

Failure to do so could spell the end of their business and, as a result, the loss of employment of their staff.

It is noteworthy that some business organizations, in particular, those composed of businesses of a similar nature, are looking for ways and means to assist their members meet the financial challenges of the times.

Their being market competitors does not discourage or prevent them from assisting their fellow members keep their nose out of the water.

It’s been a tough year for business. But as the saying goes, when the going gets tough, the tough gets going. That adage would be tested in 2021.

Happy New Year!

For comments, please send your email to [email protected]

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