Manila Bulletin : Duterte economic adviser to BBM: Protect MSMEs

By Raymund Antonio | Manila Bulletin

President Duterte’s key economic adviser has this to say to presumptive president Ferdinand Marcos Jr.: Support and protect micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to create more jobs for Filipinos.

Highlighting the need for a stable MSME industry, Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship and Go Negosyo founder Joey Concepcion said it is also the key to inclusive growth.

“If we are to provide more jobs to more Filipinos, we have to protect the sector that generates more than half of the employment in the country,” Concepcion added.

“I believe we are all united in our desire for inclusive growth and prosperity for all,” he said.

According to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), MSMEs generated 62.66 percent of the country’s employment.

In 2020, micro enterprises had the biggest share of jobs created with 29.38 percent, closely followed by small enterprises at 25.78 percent, while medium enterprises contributed 7.5 percent.

Even for large enterprises, job generation is also dependent on the health of the economy, Concepcion said.

Large companies are encouraged to drive up their production and hire more workers because of increased economic activity.

In turn, this will allow companies to increase wages and entice workers.

Large enterprises account for 37.34 percent of the country’s overall employment.

“That is why during the pandemic, we have been pushing for solutions like testing, vaccinations, and now, boosters for those 50 years and older. We need to protect our economic frontliners; the vaccines are more useful in their arms than in storage. We believe this protection will be crucial in keeping the economy going,” Concepcion said.

“We must maintain our wall of immunity. We cannot afford restrictions in movement, not now that our debt has reached P12.68 trillion, and by yearend it could be more than P13 trillion,” he added.

However, he came to the defense of these debts, stressing the necessity for them during the pandemic and also to build the infrastructure needed by sectors like tourism and agriculture.

“These were meant to keep our economy vibrant and give jobs to our people so they can provide for their families. We must not let these go to waste, or risk downgrading our investment-grade status,” Concepcion said, adding that the consequences of a slower economy are less revenue to pay back debt and the erosion of confidence among foreign investors.

MSMEs can’t anymore afford disruptions in business, the economic adviser stressed, since they were widely hit by the lockdowns during the height of the pandemic.

Many of these MSMEs were forced to close and are now “strapped for working capital” and “live hand-to-mouth.”

Large corporations were also not spared, he said.

“The health of the population goes hand-in-hand with the health of the economy,” Concepcion added.