Furniture exporters seek gov’t aid

Published by rudy Date posted on February 18, 2009

Philippine furniture and home décor exporters are asking the government for aid, including a P1-billion export development fund and pegging of the exchange rate at P55 to the dollar, saying they faced “extinction.”

The appeal came from the Chamber of Furniture Industry of the Philippines, Philippine Export Retailers and Producers Association, Christmas Décor Producers and Exporters Association of the Philippines, and Home Accents of the Philippines Inc.

Apart from the export development fund, which Malacañang had committed to release early this year, and the pegged exchange rate, they also asked the government to reduce electricity prices, restructure exporters’ loans to have longer repayment periods, and establish a one-stop display and retail center for Philippine export products in Manila.

Leaders of the groups said their members were “gasping for survival.”

In a statement posted on the website of Philippine Exporters Confederation Inc., the groups said that although none of their member companies had closed down, most of them had ceased giving orders to subcontractors because of significantly reduced demand abroad.

Some of them have slashed their employee base “to the barest minimum,” the statement said.

To keep from closing down amid weak export demand, the groups said they had resorted to selling their products in the domestic market.

Competition from importers of furniture from China, Indonesia and Malaysia, however, was killing the exporters’ local business.

To keep this from happening, Chamber of Furniture Industry past president Manny Padiernos suggested that the government review its tariff commitments “so as not to put local industries at a disadvantage.”

The groups reiterated their request for a standby credit facility that distressed companies could tap in case they encountered cash-flow problems.

They also called for a discounted power rate similar to the one being enjoyed by Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) locators.

A reduction in power rates even for non-PEZA locators, composed mostly of small and medium exporters, for at least the next two or three years would allow them to stay afloat even amid the global recession, the groups said. With editing by

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