Legarda: Sustain support for MSMEs to address poverty and unemployment
Three-term Senator, now Deputy Speaker, Loren Legarda called for continued efforts to bolster assistance provided to Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) to include local entrepreneurs and indigenous communities in the grassroots to ensure that everyone benefits from government programs that seek to alleviate poverty and promote economic growth.
“Let us continue to expand the scope of our assistance, especially in areas with high poverty incidence so that we can open up more opportunities for them. Just this April we again recorded an increase in our unemployment rate from 7.1% in March to 8.7 % in April. Our workforce is slowly recovering as the economy reopened even as community quarantines and lockdowns continue to be imposed to curb the spread of COVID-19 virus. However, 4.14 million unemployed Filipinos is still a big number and the fact remains that the problem of unemployment is one of the major problems that need to be addressed urgently. Providing viable employment alternatives will strongly complement the effort to generate jobs and help address the lingering unemployment problems in the country even worsened by the pandemic and occurrence of disasters,” Legarda said.
To help address this, Legarda also called for strengthened promotion and better implementation of the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) Law (RA 9501) and the Barangay Skills Training and Livelihood Act (RA 9509), which she both authored and sponsored during her term as Senator.
“For many years, MSMEs serve as the backbone of our economy and, given sufficient attention and support, this sector will no doubt accelerate socio-economic empowerment of various sectors in the society, including women, youth, and indigenous communities. We have to strengthen efforts in generating more jobs and strengthening employment creation, facilitation, and enhancement for our growing population,” Legarda stressed.
Meanwhile, Legarda also called for heightened information campaign on the existing programs of the government that our local entrepreneurs can avail to assist their businesses. She also noted that the complicated process of accessing such assistance should be streamlined so that the beneficiaries will receive the assistance they deserve without having to be burdened with the arduous application process and requirements.
“I call for massive information dissemination so that those in the grassroots would know that the government does have the resources and mechanisms in place. We have to ensure that those in the grassroots also and actually benefit from the government’s efforts to provide basic services as well as improve the welfare and well-being of our people, while promoting the country’s culture, heritage, artistry and craftsmanship,” Legarda said.
Aside from the arts and crafts fair facilitated in partnership with the Department of Trade and Industry and the Department of Tourism, the Department of Labor and Employment’s (DOLE) Integrated Livelihood and Emergency Program (DILEEP) also provides livelihood assistance to small businesses and cooperatives. Legarda also encouraged MSMEs to avail of the COVID-19 Assistance to Restart Enterprises (CARES) Program of the Small Business Corporation (SBCorp), which is a Php 1 billion rehabilitation financing under the Pondo sa Pagbabago at Pag-asenso (P3) to support MSMEs affected by the economic impact of the pandemic and the I-RESCUE (Interim Rehabilitation Support to Cushion Unfavorably-affected Enterprises by Covid-19), a lending program launched by LANDBANK in support of RA 11649 or the “Bayanihan to Heal as One Act.”
“MSME programs are viable platforms for generating employment opportunities and better incomes for the Filipino people. Thus, amid this pandemic, we must ensure that our MSMEs are provided with the financial and technical assistance to ensure their survival. We have to continuously empower them in order to unlock more markets, enhance products, develop more businesses, and strengthen the protection and sustainability of our livelihoods,” Legarda concluded.
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