Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos Jr. today said small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the Philippines are ill-prepared for the ASEAN integration due to lack of full government backing.
In a speech, Marcos said SMEs have been the most vulnerable sector in the ASEAN integration given the non-tariff barriers which make markets more open and more competitive. He pointed out that SMEs need to access government resources and those coming from other financial institutions to be able to improve their products and operations.
In this aspect, Marcos pointed out, that government has failed them because most of them still find it difficult to access loans and other forms of financial assistance. “Malaki ang pagkukulang ng gobyerno sa pagtulong sa SMEs. There is no easy access to capital and despite the Asean integration, access remains difficult. Mas marami ang pagkukulang,” he said.
He pointed out that aside from problems in accessing loan facilities, poor infrastructure and high cost of power are also keeping SMEs from achieving global competitiveness.
He further stressed that SMEs are powerless in the Asean integration without full government support. “Our country is now open to new and stronger businesses which may force our SMEs to shut down without government backing them up every step of the way,” he said.
He stated such scenario will be catastrophic to most Filipinos because SMEs comprise 99.6 percent of businesses registered in the country and provide 70 percent of the workforce.
But Marcos said it is not too late to help the SMEs because the country has enough laws with the necessary safeguards to assist them. “Madami tayong mga batas para sila ay tulungan at iyon ang dapat na mapatupad upang tulungan sila na maging mas malakas na global competition,” he said.
Marcos added that product improvement and innovation and skills training should also be pursued to help their products become more competitive. “If we are to make meaningful change in the economy, we should help our SMEs because they make up more than 99 percent of our businesses and as they are now competing in the Asean market, they should be able to offer high value products and services to be able to survive,” he said.