One of the Philippines' largest business groups appealed to the government Thursday that they be allowed to import COVID vaccines for their workers "without restrictions or conditions."
The Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry said this would reduce pressure from the government to procure vaccines for the general public.
"We urge the government to allow the private sector to import vaccines without restrictions or conditions so we could move quickly and efficiently in vaccinating more people,” PCCI President Benedicto Yujuico said, noting that companies continue to see a "sharp drop" in sales due to still prevailing restrictions.
"We cannot risk being left behind again and revert to being the ‘basket case’ of Asia," he added.
The business group's call came as the country battles a surge of COVID-19 infections and new virus variants that are threatening its economic recovery. Metro Manila, for instance, implemented a two-week curfew starting this week to limit the movement of people in hopes of curbing virus transmission.
The PCCI also highlighted the need for government to speed up its procurement of vaccines "to ensure the safety of our workers and people, improve consumer confidence and hasten the recovery of our economy".
It was only this month that the Philippines started its COVID-19 vaccination program using donated jabs that so far can only cover healthcare workers and law enforcers. Vaccines that the government has negotiated for have yet to arrive.
COVID-19 vaccine czar Sec. Carlito Galvez Jr. had said that at a best-case scenario, jabs could be made available to the general public by late April or early May.
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