Solon: Support for MSMEs to help preserve more than 5.7M jobs

A House leader on Sunday underscored the importance of providing much-needed support to the country’s micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) amid the coronavirus pandemic, saying it would help preserve more than 5.7 million local jobs.

“We should make sure that MSMEs are given whatever support they need not only to keep their businesses afloat, but more importantly, to prevent people from losing their jobs as we face an unprecedented public health crisis,” said House Deputy Majority Leader and Bagong Henerasyon (BH) party-list Rep. Bernadette Herrera.

Citing data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), Herrera said that 99.52 percent or 998,342 of the 1,003,111 business enterprises operating across the country in 2018 are MSMEs. The remaining 4,769 or 0.48 percent represents the large enterprises, she added.

Of the total MSME establishments, Herrera said micro enterprises constitute 88.45 percent (887,272), followed by small enterprises at 10.58 percent (106,175) and medium enterprises at 0.49 percent (4,895).

Herrera noted that MSMEs play a key role in job creation, providing about two thirds of all formal jobs in the Philippines.

“In 2018, these MSMEs collectively generated a total of 5,714,262 jobs or 63.19 percent of the country’s total employment,” said Herrera. “This is why it is crucial for the government to extend more assistance to this sector.”

Even before the entire island of Luzon was placed under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) to contain COVID-19, Herrera lamented that companies across the service industry were already feeling the pinch, with restaurants, salons and spas drawing fewer customers due to concerns about the new coronavirus.

She said it was ”unfortunate that the COVID-19 pandemic leaves many small business owners and workers uncertain about their future.”

The House Deputy Majority Leader said it’s a good thing the government was working proactively to help small businesses cope with the impact of the ECQ.

Herrera cited the P1-billion loan facility set up by the Small Business Corp., the financing arm of the Department of Trade and Industry, for MSMEs, which will be implemented once the ECQ is lifted.

The veteran lawmaker also welcomed the announcement of Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano that Congress is now working to come up with a major stimulus package to help businesses, especially MSMEs, get through the crisis. “This is an assurance that help is on the way for MSMEs.”

Herrera had earlier proposed a number of measures to support MSMEs amid the uncertainties brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. These include tax breaks, six-month moratorium on credit card payments and bank loans, and a revamp of capital markets to allow smaller businesses easy access to capital.

She also proposed a two-month wage subsidy for MSME workers equivalent to the minimum wage by region to help them cope with the coronavirus crisis.

“These measures would provide economic relief to small business owners and give them enough funds to pay for the salary of their employees who would otherwise have been laid off as a result of the crisis,” Herrera said.