(YEARENDER) DTI keeps focus on MSMEs amid changes in leadership in 2016BY Kris M. Crismundo

The Department of Trade and Industry, despite a change in leadership, continues to support micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs).

When former Secretary Gregory L. Domingo stepped down at end-2015, he was succeeded by his then-undersecretary Adrian S. Cristobal Jr. who vowed to go "full speed ahead" on programs particularly for MSMEs and trade promotions and negotiations until the last day of the Aquino administration.

When the Duterte administration took office, President Rodrigo R. Duterte's appointed DTI Secretary Ramon M. Lopez -- an advocate of entrepreneurship, as he was the executive director of Go Negosyo -- also stressed the need to focus and further strengthen the support for MSMEs nationwide.

Ease of doing business

DTI aims to hasten the process for business registration and renewal to promote entrepreneurial activities and encourage businesses to be in the formal sector.

In line with the first directive of President Duterte during his first State of the Nation Address to make government transactions efficient, DTI has initiated to streamline business permits and licensing system (BPLS).

The DTI, along with the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and Department of Information and Communication Technology (DICT), issued a Joint Memorandum Circular in August directing all local government units (LGUs) to use unified form with only two signatories -- the Mayor and the Treasurer or Business Permits and Licensing Head with alternate approving signatories.

The JMC also cuts processing time for new business registration to 48 hours and 24 hours for renewals.

The departments likewise target for automated BPLS through the DICT.

MSME facilities

DTI's Negosyo Centers, aside from facilitating MSMEs' business registration, have helped the MSMEs by providing business advisory services, promoting business information and advocacy, as well as monitoring and evaluating their business processes.

As mandated by Republic Act No. 10644 or the Go Negosyo Act, DTI shall establish Negosyo Centers nationwide.

As of Dec. 6, the department has established 204 Negosyo Centers, surpassing its target of 150 facilities for 2016.

Some 226 Negosyo Centers are in Luzon while there are 90 centers in Visayas and 88 in Mindanao.

The facilities have assisted 483,711 clients and the department was able to conduct 6,002 seminars for MSMEs across the country through the Go Negosyo Act.

"We are proud that we have established more Negosyo Centers more than what we have expected to establish," said DTI Undersecretary for Regional Operations Group Zenaida C. Maglaya.

Also this year, DTI launched 10 fabrication laboratories (fab labs) nationwide amounting to PHP88 million.

Fab labs help grassroots communities translate their design ideas into physical forms through advanced technology.

These facilities also allow MSMEs to access prototyping technologies and software in designing and manufacturing, which will help them be more competitive in the market.

Linking to big firms

The Kapatid Program was also launched by DTI in partnership with Philippine Center for Entrepreneurship Foundation Inc. or the Go Negosyo, founded by Joey Concepcion, the Presidential Adviser on Entrepreneurship.

Under the Kapatid Program, both public and private sectors encourage big businesses to partner with micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) -- using an inclusive business model -- to scale up MSMEs.

The Kapatid Program likewise rolled out Mentor Me seminars with some 91 seminars conducted this year in different regions. This provides mentoring seminars to MSMEs from large enterprises.

In order to promote linkage between large enterprises and MSMEs, DTI's investment promotion agency Board of Investments (BOI) has included inclusive business in 2017 Investment Priorities Plan (IPP).

Under the IPP, companies that will engage in inclusive business will be given fiscal and non-fiscal incentives.

PHP1-B MSME funding

Lopez also highlighted that the Duterte administration will be rolling out PHP1.0 billion worth of funding for MSMEs next year as an initial funding for a program called "Pondo para sa Pagbabago at Pag-asenso" or P3.

The P3 will be a new source of funding for start-ups and microenterprises for them to avoid tapping loan sharks such as the so-called '5-6'.

"We will try to do the funding, retailing of these micro funds that will reach to micro-enterprises," said Lopez.

The trade chief said the government intends to roll out the program through wholesale funding via DTI's financing arm Small Business (SB) Corp., which will do the retailing to microfinance institutions.

Based on data from the Philippine Statistics Authority, MSMEs account for 99.6 percent of total establishments in the country with job generation reaching 4.89 million in 2014.

Source: Philippines News Agency