Bill boosting support for MSMEs gets Senate nod

With 22 affirmative votes and no negative votes and abstentions, the Senate has approved on third and final reading the bill institutionalizing the Shared Service Facilities project of the Department of Trade Industry.

Senate Bill No. 2021, filed by Senator Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara, aims to amend the Republic Act No. 6977 or the Magna Carta for Small Enterprises.

During Monday’s session, Angara expressed his gratitude to his fellow senators for supporting the measure, which he said will go a long way toward ensuring the growth and development of micro, small and medium enterprises.

As the principal author and sponsor of the bill, the lawmaker said the funding will now be ensured annually in the General Appropriations Act for the implementation of the SSF project, which he said has benefited thousands of MSMEs around the country since its inception in 2013.

“There were years when the SSF project was not funded and this is what will be addressed with this bill. The SSFs will be a great help for small businesses that could not afford to buy equipment such as machines to improve their operations,” he said.

“It is just to make sure that its implementation will continue,” he added.

With the SSFs, MSMEs will be able to utilize machinery, equipment and tools they need to improve their production, processes and overall competitiveness. The SSFs are managed by “cooperators” which are usually cooperatives, people’s organizations, industry associations, local government units, and state universities and colleges, for the common use of the MSME beneficiaries.

“These could be as simple as sewing machines to more complex machines like 3D printers that are housed in SSF fabrication laboratories (Fab Labs) that MSMEs can use usually for a small fee. Through these SSFs, the MSMEs can scale up their production, improve on their packaging and introduce innovations to their products,” Angara said.

Under the bill, SSF Fab Labs will be established in at least one strategic location in every province. Priority will be given to provinces without existing Fab Labs.

The Fab Labs were showcased at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic when they were used for the manufacturing of face shields, face masks, medical gowns, aerosol boxes and ethyl alcohol to cater to the huge demand while the importation of these supplies was still ongoing.

A total of 3.484 SSFs and 43 SSF Fab Labs have been established across the country, based on data from the DTI.

“We want more of our small businesses to succeed, and it is the responsibility of the government to help them in whatever way that it can. The SSF project is one such intervention that has been proven to work and benefit the MSMEs,” Angara said.

“This is all part of our ‘Tatak Pinoy’ (Proudly Pinoy) advocacy that seeks to improve the capabilities of our industries to help them produce more goods that are complex and sophisticated so that they would grow and become more competitive and consequently, produce quality, high-paying jobs for our people,” he added.

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