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Bigger budget to promote MSME products pushed

/ 12:17 AM August 01, 2017

Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon M. Lopez wants to double the budget allotted for the international marketing of Philippine-made products, noting that the current fund made the promotion of MSME goods restrictive and “not something to be proud of.”

Lopez told reporters that the budget was currently being used to raise exposure of domestic goods by making micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) join international exhibitions to showcase their products.

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He said that in the current budget for this year, which he estimated at between P100 million and P200 million, the country’s display booth covered only two or three square meters, a significantly smaller size when compared to the “island display” of other countries that covered 30 to 40 square meters.

‘Maybe double’

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“So we are dwarfed. That’s also the [implication] of our representation as a country. The Philippines has a small presence if you go out. That’s not something to be proud of. If you want to project the good products of the Philippines, let’s fund the marketing,” Lopez pointed out.

When asked how much of an increase he would like to have for 2018, he said he would want to “maybe double” the existing budget. The fund is being used mainly for the promotion of local MSME products, noting that this was “not really for government.”

MSMEs account for more than 99 percent of businesses in the country, but their contribution to the economy does not reflect the size of the demographic, generally accounting for 35 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).

Budget increases

Amid persistent emphasis on the importance of MSMEs, the development of these companies is at the forefront of the country’s agenda as the current chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean).

This would be among the budget increases that the Department of Trade and Industry would ask for, he said. The department generally accounts for some of the smallest budgets in the national government. In 2017, it has been allotted a little over P4.1 billion.

Other budget requests for this year also concern the further development of MSMEs. Lopez said that he also wanted an additional P2 billion for DTI’s money lending program for MSMEs called Pondo sa Pagbabago at Pag-asenso (P3) and another P1 billion to buy equipment for shared service facilities (SSF), a project that aims to increase MSME competitiveness. —ROY STEPHEN C. CANIVEL

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