Press Release
June 28, 2021

On hearing re privilege speech on MSMEs
Sen. Francis 'Kiko' Pangilinan
28 June 2021

Thank you very much Senator Pimentel, the Chairperson of the Committee on Trade, Commerce, and Entrepreneurship. Also to Senator Imee Marcos, the Chairperson of the Economic Affairs Committee, to which this subject matter that we are now tackling had been referred to.

Maraming salamat for this hearing on our privilege speech on our proposed solutions to the devastating effects of the pandemic on micro, small, and medium enterprises. The backbone of our economy. The largest employer would be the micro, small, and medium enterprises.

In our privilege speech delivered last June 1, this representation stressed the need to adapt to survive. We proposed the bottom-up approach in feeding the economic soil, so to speak.

Bottom-up because our micro and small and medium enterprises, which include our farmers, fisher folk, drivers, small karinderyas, etc. sila ang pinakatinamaan ng pandemya. Uulitin natin ang sinabi natin noong June 1, about 73.1 percent of micro and small enterprises were forced to close their businesses a few weeks after the Covid-19 outbreak and the lockdown measures implemented. Ang pinaka-apekatado, ang maliliit, 76.4 percent. At ang nasa services -- food, resto, hotel -- 72.7 percent.

At dahil sila ang pinaka-apektado, Filipino entrepreneurs -- mobile vendors of fishballs, karinderya, buko, mais; sari-sari stores, palengke stalls, barberya -- are not giving up. Yung mga raket scientists nga -- raket, ibig sabihin naghahanap ng raket -- have in fact persevered and refused to quit. Sila ang pinakamaliliit sa atin, sila ang pinaka-madiskarte, sila ang pinakamarunong mabuhay sa kakulangan. Tulungan natin sila.

Naalala ko iyong isang barberya, sa halip na magsara, gumawa ng mobile barberya para lang gumawa ng paraan at mabuhay.

Dahil kakaiba itong pandemya, kailangan kakaiba rin ang pag-atake rito. Kailangan isipin natin na nag-iinvest tayo o namumuhunan sa kinabukasan. Government should not look at assistance to small and medium enterprises as expenditures, but rather as investments.

The solutions we presented include:

1. Boost our "Buy Pinoy, Buy Local" campaign to promote locally-produced, locally-made, and locally-assembled products.

And that is in Section 4 (t) of Bayanihan 2, on PPEs. It says, "preference and incentives shall be given to medical safety products that are locally manufactured."

2. Conditional cash transfers to micro, small, and medium enterprises. If we are spending hundreds of billions for our cash assistance for the poorest of the poor, perhaps we should also provide assistance -- direct cash assistance -- to the poorest of the poor enterprises. Ito iyong mga maliliit na nabanggit din natin kanina.

3. And ease credit requirements for MSMEs. Sabi po nila, sa hirap ng mga requirement, eh parang dalawang beses na silang tinamaan. Hindi lamang ng Covid, kung hindi rin nung proseso at requirements para makakuha ng ayuda o assistance.

Economic recovery stimulus packages as well of Senators Recto and Pacquiao here in the Senate, we should look into seriously. This is the Bayanihan 3.

We want an effective vaccine roll-out. We want an effective herd immunity target achieved before the end of the year, and we are more than willing, as best we can to support all efforts because this is what the country needs.

The economy can never recover if there are still millions going hungry or without jobs, which relies heavily in an effective Covid response.

The focus should remain the same: aggressive testing, contact tracing, isolation, and effective vaccine roll-out.

Pag-aralan din natin paano masusuportahan ang small and medium enterprises in terms of vaccine roll-out or subsidy. Dahil base sa Committee of the Whole hearing, gagastusan naman ng gobyerno ang mga bakunang ito. Baka maaaring ma-reimburse yung mga gastos ng small and medium enterprises na ngayon pa lang ay gumagastos na dito sa mga bakunang ito.

We must come together, address the challenges of micro, small, and medium enterprises so that we can finally move toward a new normal that is addressing unemployment, hunger, and joblessness.

Maraming salamat again, Mr. Chairman, and I am interested to listen to the proposals as well of our resource persons.

Thank you very much.

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