Bizman: 1st semester economy still sluggish

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO — Pampanga Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc. (PamCham) vice chairman Rene Romero described over the weekend the performance of the local economy during the first semester or past six months of 2012 as still “sluggish.”

At the onset of the year, Romero opined that the local economy would be “shaky” but not “really worrying,” because of external effects of other world economies like that of the US, China and what he branded as the Asean tigers.

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“I am not an expert, honestly, on the local economy. Our projections in the business sector are primarily based on local observations, figures and data that are coming to us in the real sense. Based on these, we could actually make preparations in the coming months, especially with the onset of lean months in July,” he told Sun.Star Pampanga.

“As an example, we made observations in malls recently and we noticed that people just moved around. What were conspicuously missing were filled shopping bags in the hands of customers. Even if there were, they evidently were necessities. It’s an indication that people don’t have that much-needed purchasing power in their hands after the first six months of the year,” Romero said.

His observations were corroborated by marketing managers of two malls in the city, who said traffic count was way down versus last year even with promotions and special sales and discounts occasionally.

“We are still reeling from the effects of slowdowns in the economic activities of the US, Europe and China which ‘overheated’ recently, so to speak, including tiger economies of Asia like Singapore that are similarly affected by global downtrends. Our local exports like furniture, toys, and house wares are down based on records. Much more, locally, we are not yet feeling the positive effects of the National Government’s stimulus packages. Some of us at PamCham maybe rebounding now, but generally, our local economy remains sluggish at this point,” the businessman narrated.

‘October fever’

Hopes for some boost, Romero said, are nearing come October this year, when elections in 2013 get to a grind.

“Election money will certainly perk up the local economy, palliative as it maybe. Our past experience shows that when candidates start gearing up for elections, like starting October this year, money will flow and pump up the circulation starting from the bottom. When this election money cascades to the labor sector, a sudden energy of purchasing power goes into the hands of the consumer. The big thing is, it is pre-Christmas season by that time and the manufacturing and production industries–from T-shirts to food–will double inventory, translating to solutions that will ripple to all sectors including health, agriculture and finance,” he added.

“What is good about the ‘October Fever’ and election syndrome is that it will sustain the local economy to as long as June next year,” he shared.

“We in the business sector have always crossed our fingers for better things to come for the sake of our employees and the labor industry in general. Sluggish as the local economy maybe now, we are doing everything we can to perk up the local economy and cushion effects it may have on our workers. Hope is always there and we would certainly overcome these challenges,” he said. (Jovi T. De Leon)

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