THE Cebu business community is requesting a moratorium on the proposed plan for a mandatory across-the-board daily wage increase of P125.

While they recognize the government’s initiative to rationalize the wage structure in the country and alleviate the plight of poor workers, the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI), the Mactan Export Processing Zone Chamber of Exporters and Manufacturers (Mepzcem), Confederation of Philippine Exporters (Philexport Cebu), and the Mandaue Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI), through a joint manifesto, appealed to the Department of Labor and Employment (Dole) for the temporary prohibition of the wage increase citing several factors.

The business community pointed out that “the export sector and its supply chain/s are still reeling from the effects of the global slowdown, and has already absorbed 16 months of continuous decline in export revenues without any clear sign of a recovery in the near term, worryingly pointing to a double digit-drop in export performance for fiscal year 2016, which could add to the 150 companies who have suspended operations, gone bankrupt and heavily downsized since 2010.”

It added that the services sector, particularly in the wellness sub-sector comprised of retailers, hotels, resorts and restaurants are currently in a state of negative growth.

The group also raised the “prevailing concerns covering social, environmental, peace and security that the country is currently facing has already adversely affected domestic business operations and has driven foreign investments away, as evidenced by the drop in the stock market index and the weakening of the Philippine peso.”

The Philippine Statistics Authority reported that the balance of trade in goods for the Philippines in July 2016 registered a deficit of $2.053 billion, higher than the $1.475 billion trade deficit in the same month last year.

The group also cited that some Cebu-based business establishments are considering to move their production hubs to other ASEAN countries to take advantage of lower labor costs, cheaper raw materials and conducive tax regimes. One medium-sized exporter is already operating in Indonesia. The group noted that the Philippines has one of the highest corporate and individual tax rates in Southeast Asia.

Amid the challenging times, the Cebu business community, through CCCI, is committed to attracting more investors to widen access for business opportunities and to provide an enabling environment in order to increase employment in the region and ensure businesses to thrive.

The joint manifesto was signed last Sept. 19.

Dole is conducting nationwide consultations on the legislative measures proposing a P125 across-the-board general wage increase in the private sector through the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Boards (RTWPB).

Earlier, PCCI George Barcelon said he already presented the wage hike sentiment of the business community in one of their meetings with President Rodrigo Duterte.

“We reminded the President of his mandate to us (businessmen) that is to create inclusive growth which means to create more jobs,” said Barcelon.