GOVERNMENT must feed the soil that is the Philippine economy so that micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) who make up 99 percent of registered businesses may thrive, Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan said Tuesday.
“Sa farming, may kasabihan, you feed the soil, not the plant. In this case, government must feed the soil that is the Philippine economy so that we can have an economic ecosystem of thriving enterprises,” Pangilinan said.
In a privilege speech delivered Tuesday entitled, “Feeding the economic soil by buying Filipino,” Pangilinan emphasized that the government must be able to match the Filipino entrepreneur’s toughness and adaptability by providing MSMEs-friendly programs and policies.
Called the “backbone of the economy,” the 99 percent of the 1.42 nine-tenths are microenterprises, the senator said, citing data from the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).
“But with the challenges they face, it will not simply take a village, but collective institutional action to help our MSMEs overcome these hurdles arising from the Covid-19 pandemic and rally toward recovery. Our proposed solutions include one: Boost our ‘Buy Pinoy, Buy Local’ campaign to promote locally-produced, locally-made, and locally-assembled products,” he said.
According to the Asian Development Bank, an average of 73.1 percent MSMEs were forced to close business following the COVID-19 outbreak and subsequent quarantine classifications.
“Ang pinaka-apekatado, ang maliliit, 76.4 percent, at ang nasa services, food, resto, hotel, 72.7 percent. Pito sa bawat sampung maliliit na negosyo ang nagsara,” Pangilinan said, stressing the contributions of small businesses to local economic activity by generating jobs and injecting capital that supports other local businesses.
In an effort to support local businesses, Pangilinan highlights provisions in the Procurement Law for government agencies to locally source articles, raw materials, and other supplies.
“We introduced Special Provision Number 8 in the DTI budget during the period of amendments that there should be preference for locally-made and locally-assembled products among companies registered with the Board of Investments and the Philippine Economic Zone Authority,” he said.
As of delivering the speech, government agencies are yet to provide an update on the approval of the implementing rules for Special Provision Number 8.
Pangilinan earlier raised questions on why the government is not patronizing locally-made PPEs whose industry had to lay off about 4,000 workers due to lack of demand for local PPEs.
Section 4 (t) of Bayanihan 2 said that PPEs procured essentially to those that need protection by the national government through the Department of Health: “Provided, that preference and incentives shall be given to medical safety products that are locally manufactured.”
Pangilinan said that the government can easily jump-start the economy by buying Filipino.
“Malinaw ang nakasulat sa batas, pero mismong local manufacturers pa natin ang nagmamakaawa para ipatupad ito. Last year, it was revealed that DBM contracts procuring millions of PPEs were mostly from Chinese companies. Ano ba ang meron sa China na wala sa ating mga lokal na industriya at masyadong addicted ang DoH sa mga produkto nito? Why is there a preference for Chinese companies over our local manufacturers?” he said.
EXTEND BAYANIHAN 2, PROVIDE CASH AID AND CREDIT FOR MSMEs
With the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act or Bayanihan 2 expiring on June 30, 2021, Pangilinan bats for its extension until the end of the year so that MSMEs may still be able to access funds and credit.
Citing the transportation sector as an example, Pangilinan said that the Department of Transportation has only so far used 40 million pesos (or less than 1 percent) of its 5.58-billion-peso budget for its Service Contracting Program, reaching only 9,000 drivers.
Of the 10 billion pesos allotted for MSMEs under Bayanihan 2 DTI-Small Business Corporation’s Covid-19 Assistance to Restart Enterprises (CARES) program, only 3.38 billion pesos in loans were approved for 28,000 borrowers.
However, only 2.78 billion pesos have so far been released, reaching only 23,141 borrowers.
“Buy Filipino. Payamanin ang kababayan nating magsasaka, mangingisda, sapatero, maging mga gumagawa ng PPE, at kung anu-ano pa. Sa bawat pagtangkilik ng produktong Pilipino, may tinutulungan tayong magsasaka, mangingisda, manggagawa at pamilyang Pilipino,” Pangilinan said.
The privilege speech was referred to the Senate Committee of Trade.