As the President crossed his 100-day mark in office, the government agency tasked to look after the interest of micro, small and medium enterprises is also under the lens. How has the Department of Trade and Industry carried out its mandate to support and uphold entrepreneurship?
The agency submitted to President Rodrigo Duterte a report detailing its accomplishments for its own “first 100 days” as an agency under the current administration.
At a town hall meet marking the President’s 100-day milestone in Davao City, DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez handed the President the report which enumerated the agency’s implemented and on-going programs for existing and aspiring entrepreneurs, from the period of July to September 2016.
Projects and earnings
In the report, the agency stressed the role it has been playing in streamlining government processes for ease of doing business.
According to DTI, it has partnered with the Department of Interior and Local Government and the Department of Information and Communications Technology in cutting business permit processing and licensing time from an average of more than a week to two days or less using a unified form and a maximum requirement of two signatures only.
Sec. Lopez pointed out that such streamlining is now done in 85 percent of local government units, in its first month of implementation.
On MSME development and promotion, aside from staging trade fairs and exhibits, the sales of which have reached Php 18.48 million from July to September 2016, DTI reported its establishment of 84 Negosyo Centers. These Negosyo Centers assist over 116,000 clients, 55 shared service facilities and fabrication laboratories that catered to 90,247 micro entrepreneurs.
Under the SME Roving Academy program, 400 trainings have reportedly been conducted, producing over 14,000 trainees. Another program, Negosyo, Konsyumer, Atbp., which is another platform for SME activities and seminars, is said to have benefited over 8,000 participants.
The Project Kapatid Mentor Me program, a series of weekly coaching sessions involving business owners and MSMEs, has identified 101 shared service facilities for adoption. The program conducted mentoring sessions in 13 provinces and catered to over 3,500 participants.
Simultaneously, the program was launched in Davao City during the presentation of the report. Kapatid Mentor Me is a joint initiative of DTI with Go Negosyo, Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Philippine Franchise Association, Association of Filipino Franchisers, Inc. and other organizations that mentor micro, small and medium enterprises to level-up and be more competitive.
The agency reported its signing of the implementing rules and regulations of the Microfinance NGOs Act (RA 10693) with the Department of Finance and the Department of Social Welfare and Development.
The law, authored by Senator Bam Aquino and approved during the Aquino administration late last year, aims to support non-government organizations engaged in microfinance operations for the poor.
Consumer welfare and ending 'endo'
As for the often overlooked area of consumer welfare, the agency reported that it has resolved 94 percent (or 948 out of 1,013) consumer complaints in three months. In the same period and while working with the national police, DTI reportedly confiscated Php 1.9 million-worth of violative products, penalized 18 firms which have been fined with Php 945 thousand in total, and issued show-cause orders to 78 importers for possible violations of product certification policies. Another Php 1.95 million worth of forfeited surety bonds were said to have been collected.
Over Php 13 million have been collected from the issuance of import commodity clearances and product standard licenses, while sales of over Php 8 million were made from international trade fairs that involved exporters and designers.
As for the issue of solving the “endo” or end-of-contract scheme, the agency stressed in the report its proposal of a legitimate contractualization, which would supposedly still ensure full regular benefits to workers.
While small and medium businesses can generally afford to run their operation costs, the sector has widely expressed apprehension about its incapability to shoulder the full range of benefits entitled to regular employees.