Manila Bulletin

Busi­nesses need to boost con­sumer con dence – DOF

- By CHINO S. LEYCO Business · Iloilo · Philippines · Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas · Nigeria

Fi­nance Sec­re­tary Car­los G. Dominguez III has urged lo­cal busi­ness own­ers to work on ways to re­gain the strength of con­sumer sen­ti­ment shat­tered by the un­cer­tainty spawned by the COVID-19 pan­demic.

Speak­ing at a re­cent we­bi­nar hosted by the Iloilo Busi­ness Club (IBC), Dominguez said the chal­lenge fac­ing the coun­try’s econ­omy to­day is how to in­still con­fi­dence in con­sumers in the wake of the COVID-19 out­break.

As lift­ing of gov­ern­ment’s move­ment re­stric­tions alone will not au­to­mat­i­cally bring con­sumer con­fi­dence back, Dominguez said it is cru­cial for busi­nesses to help their cus­tomers feel safe and se­cure once they de­cide to re­turn to their es­tab­lish­ments.

“Our real prob­lem right now with this COVID-19 is how to give peo­ple the con­fi­dence that if they go out and they start their reg­u­lar ac­tiv­i­ties or go back to work, they are not go­ing to get in­fected or if they get in­fected, there is a way of cur­ing it,” Dominguez said.

The re­vival of con­sumer con­fi­dence is cen­tral to the re­cov­ery of the Philip­pine econ­omy, as the na­tion’s growth has his­tor­i­cally been driven mainly by con­sump­tion, with house­holds con­tribut­ing more than twothirds of ag­gre­gate ex­pen­di­tures.

“COVID-19 de­stroyed the ag­gre­gate de­mand in the Philip­pines be­cause peo­ple just couldn’t move around and be­cause they are scared to get sick, they're wor­ried about their jobs, they are not spend­ing so much,” Dominguez ex­plained.

The cri­sis in con­sumer con dence is re­ally the prob­lem in the lo­cal econ­omy, the nance chief said.

A re­cent Bangko Sen­tral ng Pilip­inas con­sumer ex­pec­ta­tions sur­vey re­vealed that the con­sumer con dence in­dex plunged to a record low of mi­nus 54.5 per­cent in the third quar­ter, the low­est since the start of the na­tion­wide sur­vey in the rst quar­ter of 2007.

“It’s im­por­tant for us to start en­cour­ag­ing peo­ple to be con dent that spend­ing is okay,” Dominguez said.

For in­stance, Dominguez sug­gested that mall and ho­tel own­ers in Iloilo should re­as­sure con­sumers that health and safety mea­sures are in place in their premises.

“For the mall own­ers for in­stance, I would sug­gest that you come out with a pub­lic in­for­ma­tion cam­paign telling the peo­ple that they are go­ing to be safe in the mall. That they take your tem­per­a­ture, that every­body wears a mask, that your chances of get­ting in­fected are very small,” Dominguez said.

While for ho­tel op­er­a­tors, Dominguez said “you can start open­ing up for staycation­s. You know, peo­ple don’t want to travel out­side Iloilo so let’s talk to your lo­cal gov­ern­ments and open your lo­cal ho­tels so that peo­ple can do a va­ca­tion in a ho­tel.”

“Let’s cre­ate a bub­ble of con­fi­dence in Iloilo so that peo­ple can re­sume their reg­u­lar lives and re­sume their jobs. So that, I think, is what the lo­cal busi­ness can do in your area,” he added.

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