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Rough Cuts| What gall they have!


Early last month when the CoViD 19 infection in the country showed signs of slowing down and apparently the country’s economy in shambles, the government started crafting measures to resuscitate the small and medium businesses. The reason for the government’s prioritization of the businesses concerned is that they are the larger percentage of the entire economic workhorses of the country employing the bigger number of employees from the total national work force.

But it seems the big businesses do not agree with such assessment and preference. So they boldly asked the government to save their ranks first from financial ruins. The captains of the big players in the economy, as they claim, said the government should instead focus using its limited resources to rescue them and not on “countless much smaller and supposedly less economically viable enterprises amidst the pandemic-spawned economic recession.”

During the present economic crisis, it is the big ones that are more devastated, Federation of Philippine Industries (FPI) chair Jesus Arranza claimed in a statement he gave to a government news gathering agency.

According to Arranza large industries have taken the brunt of the lockdowns because “their operations are more spread out across tightly guarded local jurisdictions.” 

Adding that big businesses do not necessarily need cash support from the government, he said that what these companies want is for them to be less restricted by new regulations imposed purportedly to control the spread of the deadly disease.

One regulation the FPI wanted the government to relax is on limiting to the minimum the number of public utility vehicles to ply the roads. According to the FPI chair allowing the big businesses to operate on a limited scale but also putting a cap to the number of mass transport vehicles on the road is tantamount to not permitting its re-opening at all.

During that particular period when we too observed the apparent flattening of the curve of the CoViD 19 pandemic we fully agreed with the intention of the FPI.

Yes, the members of the organization are mostly big manufacturing companies producing out goods the people need for their day-to-day existence. Thus, even if the operations of their industries are to be on a limited scale they still need more people to run the machines and to put their produce in proper order including the preparation for its shipping out to the consumers.

Thus, we believe that allowing the commensurate number of public utility vehicles for the workers to report for work and go home on time would have made the big industries’ production more efficient and viable financially.

Workers, especially those running production machineries, need to be physically present in their workplaces. Hence, we agree with the FPI executive that providing more public transportation on the road will assure them that the workers come on time and are able to go home also on time for their much needed day-to-day rest.

And considering that company workers live in different places, hiring company shuttle service as recommended by the government, would be a considerable drain on the dwindling individual company’s financial reserves.

We however, strongly disagree with Mr. Arranza’s claim that big businesses do not need government’s cash support. Yes, these firms may have the largest and deepest reservoirs of financial assets where they can draw when needed.

But the reason they have grown that big is because they are the more astute in managing their resources; in drawing into their coffers outside money to be spent for their operations while their initial investments continue to sleep in banks earning preferential interest rates.

History will tell us that the biggest borrowers in banks, especially government financial institutions, are the big businesses. And from their ranks belong companies that are most daring in defaulting payments of their loans in billions of pesos. The same big industries are also known to be the first in government’s benevolence in granting reprieve for their indebtedness, again as shown by history.

Remember the not-so-distant past when a huge corporation in the list of the country’s Top 1000 got more than just a reprieve from its loan with a government bank but a total debt write-off?  

Yes, these companies do not need government cash assistance. However, they have the loudest shout in demanding for tax breaks and other incentives for them to financially recover from the losses they incurred as a result of the CoViD 19 pandemic. Yet again, history will tell us that in most previous similar situations they got their wish from the government.

Besides, it is common knowledge that whether there is a crisis of any kind, health pandemic included, big businesses always have ready plans to avoid big losses. We are all aware that in this time of modern technology full computerization of industries’ operations may allow reduction of work forces to as low as fifty percent.

And many are vying for such status in their operations because these huge businesses know how much they can save from personnel expenses. Some of these large companies have time tables as long as five years, or short as three years to attain their desired full computerization. With the health pandemic they find convenient reason to advance the implementation of their downsizing plans way ahead of their time table.

Indeed these big businesses do not really need cash – the hard one – from the government. Borrowing policies of financial institutions both government and private make them the preferred clients. But they should not be brazen enough to demand priority government attention instead of the small and medium businesses that they consider as “less economically viable” enterprises at this time of the deadly pandemic.

What gall they have!

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