BY MARCHEL P. ESPINA
The Economic Stimulus Planning Team of Bacolod City is finalizing its recommendations to open up the economy that was affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
Lawyer John Orola, special consultant on trade and investment, and a member of the team that is chaired by Councilor Dindo Ramos, said they will submit to Mayor Evelio Leonardia a summary of the recommendations gathered from the series of consultations conducted.
The initial output of the team includes the identification of target beneficiaries, and the proposed programs and projects for them, he said.
The first priority of the Economic Recovery Plan is to provide assistance to micro and small businesses mostly affected by the government-imposed community quarantine to curb the spread of Covid-19, he said.
The team also recommended helping medium-scale enterprises, which may include a waiver of penalties on delayed local tax payments, and assistance to big businesses and landowners, like amnesty to delinquent land or real property owners and developers, he added.
Basic to the recovery program is government spending to boost the economy and other activities that can create opportunities for work and livelihood, Orola said.
It is to be recognized, however, that the management of active Covid-19 cases is an integral part of the recovery effort because if the quarantine status of any locality is upgraded to the more restrictive category, then a slowdown will happen again and all this planning will have to be put on hold, Orola said.
“It is very important for people to cooperate with the prescribed health protocols of wearing face masks, social distancing, and frequent hand-washing to stem the tide of Covid transmission,” he stressed.
It is only under more relaxed quarantine conditions like the present modified general community quarantine that any economic recovery effort would have the chance to succeed, Orola said.
Leonardia has ordered the team to expand its ongoing consultations with various sectors and institutions to get their inputs on the economic recovery plan of the city.
The team was tasked in April to research and connect with government agencies that can fund local stimulus programs, and to initially negotiate with them for assistance to small businesses as the first priority, then followed by other aid programs for medium and bigger businesses.
The Sangguniang Panlungsod had already finished the first reading of the proposed ordinance, authored by Ramos, granting tax relief to delinquent real property taxpayers in the city through the condonation of penalties, interest and surcharges, and providing mechanisms for its proper implementation.*