CEBU

Editorial: Helping LSIs

Editorial Cartoon by John Gilbert Manantan

A BIG sigh of relief for the locally stranded individuals (LSI) after Cebu City opened the month of August for trips to and from other provinces. A SunStar Cebu report said 1,321 LSIs have already left Cebu while 379 Cebu residents have arrived in the past five days.

Cebu City is now under general community quarantine (GCQ), which allows public transport subject to health protocols.

The last months have been like a disintegration scene in a Marvel movie for not a few businesses in the city, leaving hundreds losing their jobs. Late last month, Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Felix Taguiam revealed that around 92 traders have expressed their intention to shut down businesses after incurring irrecoverable losses. The bulk of these LSIs come from the sector of displaced workers, and even while businesses try to grasp for new life in the “new normal,” the options are shrinking.

Philippine Statistics Authority data showed the Philippines plunged back to a familiar slump 29 years ago in gross domestic product. GDP tumbled 16.5 percent in April to June from last year’s.

The Philippines was among the fast-growing economies pre-Covid, but government now expects a GDP shrink of 5.5 percent this year, the biggest yearly drop in 25 years.

However, with the assurance of vaccines in the pipeline, the future doesn’t appear too bleak. Government foresees a rebound in 2021 and 2022.

Government’s idea of bringing sectors of the populace back to the provinces makes perfect sense. A certain dispersal may be economically strategic.

Government must pour investments into the countryside, spread out lucrative economic activities by way of agriculture and trade in those parts of the country.

Meantime, a first step would be to facilitate the return of LSIs to their home provinces. Cebu City can, perhaps, streamline procedures to make it easier for them to take the trip back home and safer for the receiving communities.


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