Press Release
February 9, 2006

*Prizes for viable business ideas, best response to game show craze Recto*

/Billions available in GFIs/

Government should ride on the game show craze by dangling billions of pesos in loanable funds held by government corporations as prizes for best business ideas.

There can be a write -in contest for business proposals. A talent search for viable /negosyo/, Sen. Ralph Recto said. This way the ticket out of poverty will not be left to chance but something that is feasible.

Governments SULONG program lent out P31 Billion last year to 15,000 entrepreneurs. These loans supported 395,000 jobs.

People die for a chance to win a tricycle when Land Bank alone can provide thousands of them in easy repayment terms, he said..

If you interview the desperate housewives who queue for a chance to be called in game show contests, they will tell you that theyre there because they need start-up capital for a business venture, he said.

Government, he said, should seize on this innate talent of Filipinos to make money out of a little capital.

Even if red tape is factored in, Recto noted that it is still a lot easier for people with good business ideas to join a government livelihood program than for them to get in a game show.

Sadly, it is question of marketing and access. People are wary of credit sources , especially if these housed in airconditioned buildings and manned by people in /barongs/ . They prefer credit on wheels, peddled by a guy wearing a turban, he said.

Recto said the huge success of microfinancing programs in the country prove that you do not have to be an Ayala, a Sy, or a Tan to be creditworthy.

If it is hard to bring people to government financing institutions (GFIs), then the latter must go to them, not literally, of course, but through the power of media, he said.

A GFI can start a contest for young entrepreneurs who can download easy-to-accomplish forms from the internet which will be filled up so that GFI can have an idea if the project is feasible or not.

Or, application forms printed in newspapers for livelihood proposals, and when submitted and found initially feasible, a credit investigator can make further inquiries and interviews, he said.

Winners can be announced and invited over to appear in government-run TV or published in newspapers, he said. To have wider impact, there can be regional or even provincial winners.

Asked about measures that would ensure repayment compliance, Recto said the release of funds can be coursed through established cooperatives as peer monitoring is an effective agent for credit discipline.

Recto admitted that his idea needs fine-tuning. But it can be done. The idea is to put sizzle in otherwise staid government livelihood programs.

What we would like to see is a "Wish Ko Lang" format but on a grander scale and based on merit, he said.

Recto said the contests can be organized along sectors or niches. One agency can take care of homemakers. Quedan Corporation will be the franchise-holder for farmers. OWWA, which has billions of pesos in trust funds, can start a program for OFWs.

To address the need of workers going abroad but lack money for plane ticket and placement fee, Recto said one government agency should start a Fly Now, Pay Later plan, to save OFWs from usurious rates offered by those who finance their employment.

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