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2006-07 critical for business: PISFA chief THE next two years are the most critical for businesses in the country, according to the Philippine International Seafreight Forwarders Association (PISFA). "This year and the next two years will be the most critical time for businesses in the country. It is a battle for survival. Next year, businesses will just try to operate to give people jobs and not expect anything in return," PISFA president Rico Brizuela told PortCalls in an interview, adding that prospects will only improve if "we get our act together as a nation." Brizuela said the current economic and political situation has made more gloomy what is already to begin with a not-so ideal business climate. "Our customers are restless, pointing to the political situation and the high price of energy as the culprit plus the fewer and fewer cargoes coming into the country," he explained. "Businesses are really hurting right now." In order to survive the next two years, companies have started adopting cost-cutting measures such as those related to maintenance, travel, fuel and, to some extent, security. They are also contemplating laying off workers to further save on cost. Brizuela, however, said layoffs are companies’ "last alternative. If we can’t survive just cutting expenses, then we may have no choice but to cut our workforce," he lamented. Earlier, industry players have said they are writing off 2005 even as they expressed a mixed outlook for next year. PISFA members specifically have cut growth projections from positive to negative this year and the next.

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