BY Nancy R. Cudis
CEBU CITY, CEBU—Figures are supposed to mean nothing unless verified by a credible study. Sometimes, though, when one is seeing and/or experiencing things, one cannot help wonder how deep and serious a situation is. Figures, in a way, give us a picture—although not necessarily 100 percent accurate. But, at the end of the day, it boils down to deciding whether or not to believe them.
Take for instance the three popular words these days—global financial crisis. This situation has affected and is threatening many export-oriented companies in Cebu. Locators at the Mactan Economic Zone (Mez) are no exception. In the middle of last month, the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (Peza) reported 68 of the 105 locators at Mez 1 to have been affected by the turmoil such that they have intensively adjusted their work schedules.
As a result, a total of 15,311 workers have affected in different degrees—11,642 under temporary work adjustments, 3,182 have stopped working due to their companies’ suspension of operations, and 487 have been retrenched. This is based on the report that Peza started in February, which is updated every 15 days.
With many affected workers reevaluating their budget to meet their daily basic needs while being able to save, local retailers are facing a serious dilemma in consumer spending—but something they can always face, if they remain innovative and focused. Among them is homegrown retailer Junrex Cellphones and Accessories, which reported a 30 percent decline in sales volume from January to March this year compared to the same period last year. Junrex president and chief executive officer Jun Yap considered this to be the lowest in the past ten years.
On the bright note, though, Mr. Yap said they were able to enhance the manpower of their shops by having just enough people and letting go of the extra hands. However, that did not stop the company from having to close two stores and one of its two offices in Cebu Business Park just to keep going. In these times, the goal of most, if not all, retailers is to survive—by all means possible—to be still around when the economy rebounds under good conditions.
Apart from retailers, the government also expects a decline in tax collection this year, especially after the passage of Republic Act 9504 that aims to ease the effects of the global financial crisis on Filipinos. In 2008, the Bureau of Internal Revenue Cebu City-13 was not able to meet its P9.9 billion target by collecting only P9.4 billion. About 34.9 percent of the collection came from income tax on individual taxpayers.
With the new RA 9504 and the significant number of jobless people from Mez 1 alone, BIR is confronted with the challenge to intensify its collection areas in order to meet its target this year. Notably, the bureau is eyeing real estate, now on stable condition in the province amid the economic turmoil.
As I’ve said, these are figures. They form a picture—pieces of a puzzle. A writer can only do so much—to present them in the most informative and unbiased manner. Due to these figures, government agencies like the Department of Labor and Employment and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority has decided to aggressively implement more programs for displaced workers.
What about you, as (what you say) an ordinary citizen? What would you do with these figures? You decide.