Govt urged to buy local PPEs to save jobs, grow economy

    MANILA — The Government should take the lead in raising interest in buying “Pinoy-made” personal protective equipment (PPE) and other COVID-related necessities to help propel the country’s economy to recovery.

    “Crisis is opportunity,” says Senator Francis Pangilinan. “We could still recover economically, generate jobs if we patronize the products made by our own countrymen,” he says.

    “There is a demand for PPEs, … there’s a local demand for PPE, which local manufacturers could meet.”

    He calls on consumers to buy local products as a sure-fire formula to recover from economic slump. “I would like to reiterate my previous pronouncement to buy locally made products to fuel the recovery of the economy,” says Pangilinan who is also the author of Senate Bill 1759, or the Pandemic Protection Act.

    He filed the proposed measure in August 2020, seeking to exempt needed materials for the production of PPE from import taxes to help lower the cost of production. It also seeks to exempt the local sales of Covid-response critical products and services from value-added tax.

    Members of the Confederation of Wearable Exporters of the Philippines (Conwep) told senators during a senate hearing last week that they had to lay off as much as 3,500 workers in repurposed factories in December 2020.

    The Confederation of Philippine Manufacturers of PPE (CPMP) responded to the Government’s call in March 2020 to reconfigure their facilities to be able to produce medical-grade PPEs locally.

    Local suppliers were not maximized in the Government’s comprehensive procurement program when they joined in November to December 2020, says the CPMP.

    Only 27 percent of the Government’s monthly demand for cover-alls and gowns, and 69 percent of the monthly mask capacity were granted to local suppliers and were already delivered in January and February 2021, says Pangilinan. “Only ₱660 million worth of PPE were purchased by the government locally, according to CPMP.”

    He added that investments to upgrade local production of PPEs reached ₱1.7 billion, with the industry still incurring losses. (LO/The MiNT)

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