NEDA: Entertainment industry hardest-hit business sector, help needed

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MANILA – The glittering world of show business needs some sparks of light to glow.  This was the appeal of Liza Diño-Sequerra, chairperson of the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP) during a senate hearing on May 29 for government’s support to the industry which has been badly hit by the Covid-2019 pandemic.

She said the unprecedented closure of all entertainment-related businesses such as movie theaters, bars, concert halls, hotels, film making, advertisement and even the stoppage of a major TV network had brought the industry into shambles.

It is estimated that the country’s film and entertainment industry that supports more than 860,000 formal and informal workers will incur Php 100-billion losses this year. Diño-Sequerra fears that without government’s support almost all of them will be rendered jobless and the recovery of the industry is hard to come by.

According to a recent study by the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA), the arts, entertainment and recreation sector was the “hardest-hit business sector,” and even surpassing the economic downturn brought by the pandemic on tourism in the country.

Diño-Sequerra lamented during the hearing purposely called to discuss proposed measures to provide financial assistance to various sectors due to the crisis that “This industry, while we are considered now as nonessential, has been integral in our daily lives.  And now we are in danger of significant collapse without government aid and support.”

She also said that FDCP had distributed a total of Php 20-million in financial subsidy to freelancers, artists and other members of the audio-visual industry but it was just enough to tide them over.  However, their subsequent request for Php 50-million subsidy was not granted by the Department of Budget and Management.  

Majority of the workers in the industry were considered self-employed and members of the informal sector and thus not eligible to receive cash assistance from the Department of Labor and Employment.

Meanwhile, Senators Bong Revilla and Grace Poe, who are linked to the entertainment industry promised to support the sector.  Revilla said informal workers in the industry will be prioritized in the distribution of the second tranche of the Social Amelioration Program.  

Meanwhile, Poe suggested to utilize part of the amusement tax paid by producers to fund the cash assistance initiatives of the FDCP.

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