Neda chief Ernesto Pernia. INQUIRER file photo / JOAN BONDOC

MANILA, Philippines — While consumers mostly stayed home and many businesses were temporarily shut down in the midst of quarantine, the state planning agency National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) has rolled out two surveys that wanted to know how Filipinos were coping so far and how they will buy and sell goods as well as avail of and provide services once the country’s clear from COVID-19.

Two Neda-led surveys circulated on social media and were forwarded among members of business groups during the weekend—one was a consumer rapid assessment, while the other was intended for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).

“We need the information for anticipatory and forward planning—assigned to Neda—to get the economy back on track and transition to the ‘new normal,’” Neda chief and Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia told the Inquirer.

“Anticipatory and forward planning will need to revive consumer and business confidence,” Pernia said.

Results of the survey on entrepreneurs, which the Department of Finance (DOF) helped spread on social media, “will help President Rodrigo Duterte’s economic team forge an economic recovery plan, with a focus on helping MSMEs get back on their feet once the quarantine is lifted,” Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III said.

“The survey will also help the government devise fiscal and monetary strategies tailored to the need of the business community, so government actions will keep the overall economy afloat,” Dominguez added.

The MSME survey, being conducted in partnership with the global management consulting firm Boston Consulting Group (BCG), wanted to “understand [respondents’] experience and needs as a micro/small/medium-sized business under an enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The COVID-19 survey for MSMEs had three parts, the first of which asked small businesses the pandemic’s impact thus far and their expectations as far as work force deployment, clientele, cash flow and operations were concerned.

The second part asked MSMEs if they already availed of any financial or technical assistance from the government, and what forms of other support they needed to keep their businesses afloat.

The third part culled information about the company, including which industry it was in, the number of full-time and contractual employees, last year’s revenues and total assets, as well as location.

Also, businesses were asked to share their thoughts in case the quarantine period was extended.

As for the consumer rapid assessment, individuals were asked about their household’s income and if it was enough; if they had difficulty buying goods and availing of services during quarantine; what they wanted to purchase in the future; and if they already received relief, and what more do they need.

The consumer survey also tracked the conditions of vulnerable sectors such as persons with disabilities (PWDs), pregnant women, and senior citizens.

Households with students staying at home were likewise asked about their experiences on digital learning.

Pernia was hopeful that many consumers and firms will participate in the survey. “The higher the responses, the better,” the Neda chief said.

For the survey among consumers, the deadline was “tight”—at noon of April 7 or Tuesday next week.

The deadline of answers for the MSME survey was even tighter—on April 5, Sunday.

Pernia said Neda will crunch and assess the survey results “as soon as data come in.”

With the one-month enhanced community quarantine in Luzon and other parts of the country ending soon, plus survey results coming in during Holy Week, Neda personnel will be working hard while most other Filipinos were on break.

For Pernia, it may be their form of penance while the nation observes Holy Week, or perhaps a sacrifice necessary to move the domestic economy forward when the COVID-19 pandemic subsides.

Edited by JPV

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