Statement of Dr. Henry Lim Bon Liong, President of the Federation of Filipino Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Inc. (FFCCCII).
Dr. Lim is also chairman of the Filipino Chinese Community Charity Foundation (FCCCF) comprised of 11 major Filipino Chinese civic and cultural organizations led by FFCCCII, which has raised funds of P300 million from March 15, 2020 to July 15, 2020 for our community’s donations of crucial medical supplies to front-liners and food relief assistance to marginalized, vulnerable people affected by the COVID-19 pandemic all over the Philippines.
First of all, we the officers and members of the Federation of Filipino Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Inc. (FFCCCII) reaffirm our confidence in the bright, long-term future of the Philippine economy despite the global pandemic and economic uncertainties. Our community has been an integral part of Philippine society for centuries, witnessing the ups and downs of the tidal waves of history, steadfastly contributing to social, civic and economic progress.
The FFCCCII calls upon all entrepreneurs and professionals of our Filipino Chinese community, including other business people of the Philippines, to unite and work hard for decisive economic recovery. We propose some of these actions:
• Spend, spend, spend—We encourage entrepreneurs and professionals to spend, spend, spend for the revival of businesses throughout the Philippines, to help vigorously restore consumer confidence and revitalize our economy. The slowdown and stoppage in many economic activities in recent months due to the global pandemic crisis and the quarantines have had a detrimental impact on jobs and incomes for millions of our countrymen nationwide. Like the engine of a plane, it takes time, fuel and calibrated efforts to decisively rev up and restart our now partially immobilized economy.
• Unleash liquidity to fuel recovery—We urge banks and the national government to help unleash liquidity to fuel the engine of economic recovery, because an engine in inertia needs decisive stimulus of liquidity. Banks need not be overly conservative. If more money circulates, the faster momentum of economic recovery shall benefit all in a virtuous cycle of investments and consumption, in contrast to a climate of fear and gloom with its vicious cycle of shutdowns or retreats. We urge banks to extend support to micro, small, medium-scale enterprises (MSMEs) many of which now face existential threats and also to big companies which want to consolidate and expand.
• Jobs, jobs, jobs, focus on saving & creating jobs—As a humane response to the global crisis, let us business people prioritize maintenance of existing jobs of our employees by cutting costs and inefficiencies, try not to lay off employees. In fact, let this crisis be a time to seek out unique opportunities to go into new business ventures or even to boldly expand, so that we can create more jobs for the Philippines.
• Help keep basic goods affordable—Crisis usually creates supply and demand difficulties, let us be vigilant, socially responsible and resourceful entrepreneurs by making sacrifices and thinking of long-term stability. Help maintain affordable prices and sufficient inventories of basic commodities, especially foods and medical supplies.
• Increase charities—This global crisis should encourage entrepreneurs to become more philanthropic, since the marginalized people shall suffer more. We believe market forces alone cannot solve socio-economic problems, that we need social safety nets from government and philanthropy from the private sector to help correct socio-economic inequities and to uplift the disadvantaged.
Upholding our ethnic minority’s centuries-old tradition of philanthropy in the Philippines, 11 major Filipino Chinese business, civic and cultural groups on March 12 quickly reactivated again the Filipino Chinese Community Calamity Fund (FCCCF) to raise funds to support the country’s anti-Covid19 efforts. From March 15 to July 15, FCCCF—led by the Federation of Filipino Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Inc. (FFCCCII)—has raised P300 million pesos from numerous Filipino Chinese entrepreneurs, associations and professionals. We have been using the donations to buy medical supplies for front-liners and hospitals, buying rice and other foods to give to the poor and marginalized.
• Support farmers & fishermen—Let us the private sector support our front-liners in the agriculture and fisheries sectors, the economically-disadvantaged but important farmers and fishermen in the rural areas, if we want to lessen the age-old problems of wealth and income disparities which structurally weaken our economy. Let us support them by buying more of their products, extending them credit or technical support.
• Upgrade technology, boost e-commerce—-Adopt and upgrade information technology (IT) to boost our businesses, national efficiency and help grow the Philippine economy, especially by tapping the boundless possibilities of e-commerce to do business with the whole world.
• Export more—Strengthen export industries by developing new and higher-quality products and services, be globally-competitive. This crisis should be a wake-up call for our Philippine society to change our decades of being too dependent on imports, under-developing our export capabilities and becoming too over-dependent on the foreign currency remittances of our overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and seafarers.
• Buy Filipino & revive local manufacturing—FFCCCII has for years been promoting a “Buy Filipino” mindset, that we patronize more Philippine-made products to support our local factories, farmers, fishermen, etc. We believe manufacturing is one of the best ways to lessen poverty and to create more new jobs.
• Invite more foreign investments—Encourage more foreign direct investments (FDI) into the Philippines, especially by offering ourselves as good domestic business partners. In particular, we encourage our nationwide FFCCCII members and other Filipino Chinese entrepreneurs to leverage our linguistic, kinship and other ties with other dynamic ethnic Chinese entrepreneurs all over the Asia Pacific region and other continents, invite them to invest in the Philippines.
• Support tourism promotions & domestic tourism—To support our very important yet now distressed tourism industry, let us help the government in better promoting the Philippines to foreign tourists and also to encourage more domestic tourism.
• Invest in & help upgrade health industry—Invest more money and resources in medical and health-related businesses, whether in local manufacturing of face masks, gloves, personal protective equipment (PPEs), medicines, hospitals and others.
• Plant, Plant, Plant for food security—Invest in food and agro-industrial ventures to boost domestic food security and also food exports. Support Agriculture Secretary William Dar’s “Plant, Plant, Plant” program. Plant more vegetables and foods.
• Invest in rural countryside—Support the vision of President Rodrigo R. Duterte and Senator Senator Bong Go for rural countryside development by investing more outside Metro Manila and other big cities. Let us help decongest our big cities, tap many economic opportunities in our often neglected rural regions, help lessen the rich-poor gap and other inequities between urban and rural regions in the Philippines.
• Develop more affordable housing, less luxury high-rises—Instead of constructing too many luxury housing like high-rise condominiums, the private sector should—out of social conscience and for the sake of sustainability of our economic growth—develop more affordable housing for the middle-class, professionals and other sectors.
• Help retrain & absorb returning OFWs—Let us the private sector assist returning overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and seafarers due to the global economic slowdown. Let us help retrain them, hire them or encourage them to open micro businesses.
• Promote wellness—Let this pandemic crisis encourage all entrepreneurs to improve our physical, emotional and spiritual health. Eat and rest well, eliminate unhealthy vices. Let us also help improve the wellness of all our employees.
• Support government’s socio-economic reforms—We at FFCCCII urge all Filipino Chinese entrepreneurs, even other businessmen, to support the government’s positive socio-economic reforms and policies geared towards inclusive, sustainable Philippine economic progress. Let us entrepreneurs also actively provide frank, timely and constructive feedback to our leaders on how to strengthen our Philippine economy.