Chamber wants construction to resume under ‘productive work-site quarantine’
The largest association of real estate, housing and infrastructure developers asked the government to allow the resumption of construction activities nationwide under a “productive work-site quarantine” mode to keep the economy going.
It made the appeal following the extension of the partial lockdown of the country until April 30 to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019.
The Chamber of Real Estate & Builders’ Associations Inc. said the effects of the current global economic slowdown, particularly to overseas foreign workers and the foreign market, is so enormous it would take years until housing and real estate could fully recover.
It said thousands of skilled construction workers were either stranded on project sites away from their families or completely jobless, including repatriated OFWs.
CREBA national chairman Charlie Gorayeb said under the “productive work-site quarantine,” re-activated project sites would strictly observe all lockdown protocols on mobility and social distancing.
Workers will stay at safe and clean on-site barracks with all necessary health measures duly monitored by competent health workers.
CREBA national president Noel Toti Cariño said the reinstatement of the workers to gainful employment would help alleviate direct government support in the biggest labor sector.
The Philippine Statistics Authority estimated the construction workforce at bout 4 million, with millions more required to man new constructions under the “Build, Build, Build” program.
Cariño said displaced and returned skilled OFWs could also be deployed locally, citing the quarantine period as an opportunity to fast-track critical government projects.
CREBA said that with housing and real estate construction being major pump-primers, the continuity of construction activities would greatly stimulate the economy by positively affecting upstream and downstream industries, including employment and tax generation.
Amid the moratorium on rental and purchase payments on residential and commercial spaces, the group appealed for a 3-percent cap on bank rates, freezing of real property tax levels by LGUs for at least 6 months and maintaining the VAT-free status of house and lot purchases up to P3.2 million which the TRAIN law will discontinue by January 2021.