Senator Joel Villanueva said that micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) are keys to popularizing locally made products in the domestic and international markets, especially as the country’s economy is recovering from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The senator made this statement during this year’s Made in the Philippines Product Week (August 17-23), who added that supporting MSMEs who produce local products boosts local employment, stimulates the economy, and instills hometown and national pride.
“Let’s take for example the sweets and delicacies from Bulacan. There’s a unique sense of pride that something that delicious can be made in your hometown by your kababayans, and shared throughout the country and the whole world. Every Filipino should feel that kind of pride,” the senator said.
To this end, Villanueva filed Senate Bill No. 138, or the MSME Stimulus Act, which creates the MSME Growth Stimulus Program to extend assistance, strengthen, and facilitate the growth and development of MSMEs for regional job generation and preservation.
Villanueva said that the bill helps MSMEs become resilient and “disaster-proof”, based on the lessons learned from the pandemic and recent economic crises.
“Most of our MSMEs took massive losses during the pandemic, leading to their closures and laying off employees. Now that the economy is opening up, our MSMEs need booster shots of government aid to keep local goods and services afloat and help MSMEs keep their employees,” he said.
The proposed MSME Growth Stimulus Program provides interest-free loan programs through the Land Bank of the Philippines and the Development Bank of the Philippines.
S.B. No. 138 creates the MSME Stimulus Contingency Fund which can be implemented for priority job-generating industries affected by disasters, public health emergencies, armed conflict, and other related contingencies such as technological or policy-related disruptions.
The bill also mandates the Department of Finance through the Social Security System to provide wage subsidies to cover all or a portion of the wages of the employees of qualified MSMEs affected by emergencies described above.
“The MSME Growth Stimulus Program shows how much we believe and take pride in our local enterprises and entrepreneurs as crucial components in our economic recovery,” Villaneuva said.
According to the Department of Trade and Industry, MSMEs comprise 99.5% of all businesses in the country, and generate 62.66% of the country’s employment in 2020.