Senator Christopher “Bong” Go highlighted continuing efforts to address the economic impact of the pandemic on ordinary Filipinos and help local communities recover. One of which is to institutionalize the One Town, One Product (OTOP) Philippines Program that was approved by the Senate on the third and final reading on Monday, 20 March.
Senate Bill No. 1594, which was authored and co-sponsored by Go, aims to institutionalize the One Town, One Product (OTOP) Philippines Program and shall serve as a government stimulus program to encourage the growth of micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in the country through the utilization of indigenous raw materials, local traditions, and cultures across the country.
“Supporting small businesses plays a crucial role for the country. MSMEs are often the drivers of innovation and entrepreneurship. They can quickly respond to changing market demands and develop new products or services that meet the needs of their customers,” underscored Go.
“Backbone ng ating ekonomiya ay ang MSMEs. Ito po ‘yung mga dapat nating bigyan ng importansya, pagtuunan natin (ng pansin), tulungan natin na lumago. Bigyan natin sila ng bagong pag-asa. Palakasin (natin) ang kanilang kabuhayan para makaahon po tayo sa krisis dulot ng COVID-19,” he urged.
The senator added that MSMEs are significant contributors to job creation and can help reduce unemployment among Filipinos. The Department of Trade and Industry previously reported that, as of 2020, MSMEs are major employers, accounting for 99.5% of total business enterprises in the country and over 62% of the country’s total employment.
For this reason, the OTOP Program seeks to assist and capacitate MSMEs in developing new, innovative and more complex products and services through significant improvement in the areas of quality, product development, design, packaging, standards compliance, marketability, production capability, brand development, sustainability, and securing licenses, product registration and other market authorization, among others.
“The pandemic has resulted in job losses and reduced work hours. Kaya naman napakahalaga na patuloy ang suporta ng gobyerno sa ating mga Pilipino na nagnanais na magkaroon muli ng kabuhayan,” reiterated Go.
“Hindi lamang ito makakaambag sa unti-unting pagbangon ng ekonomiya kundi malakaking tulong din ito para sa mga nawalan ng trabaho. Ang importante po sa akin ay walang Pilipino ang magutom at ang bawat pamilyang Pilipino ay mabigyan ng oportunidad na makabangon,” he continued.
In line with efforts to promote economic development in the country, Go likewise reintroduced SBN 1182 or the proposed Government Financial Institutions Unified Initiatives to Distressed Enterprises for Economic Recovery (GUIDE) Act in a bid to strengthen the capacity of government financial institutions to provide the needed financial assistance to MSMEs, and other strategically important companies (SICs).
The GUIDE aims to strengthen the capacity of the Land Bank of the Philippines and the Development Bank of the Philippines in order to provide much-needed access to credit and financial assistance to distressed businesses, including MSMEs, SICs, and other businesses affected by the pandemic.
Go pointed out that the proposed GUIDE Act is among the priority measures mentioned by President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. during the latter’s first State of the Nation Address.
At the height of the pandemic, Go was likewise instrumental in the implementation of the Small Business Wage Subsidy program, which provided eligible workers who were unable to work or get paid during the enhanced community quarantine period with two tranches of financial assistance.
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