Four-term Senator Loren Legarda today July 21 filed Senate Bill 8, or the “Pangkabuhayan Act,” to stimulate entrepreneurship and empower Filipino entrepreneurs by ensuring effective access to existing financing and livelihood assistance programs.
Legarda, who is expected to be selected as the Senate President Pro Tempore in Monday’s opening of the 19th Congress, stressed the urgent need for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) and struggling entrepreneurs to access financial assistance and other support programs from the government.
‘’MSMEs programs are viable platforms for generating employment opportunities and better incomes for the Filipino people. Thus, we have to strengthen our MSMEs by providing assistance for their businesses to flourish,” she said.
“Our support to MSMEs should go beyond easing up bureaucracy for them. Our government should provide technical assistance, such as technology transfer, knowledge exchange, skills training, and other capacity-building activities that will further advance the proficiency of our MSMEs,” she added.
The bill seeks to establish the Pangkabuhayan Council, which shall act as the coordinating and supervising body for all agencies involved in operating all MSME programs and policies.
As part of its functions, the Council shall endeavor to simplify the rules and regulations and review the applicability and relevance of procedural and documentary requirements in the registration, financing, and other activities relevant to MSMEs and individual beneficiaries.
Among others, the Council is also directed to develop, in coordination with the Department of Education (DepEd), Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, and Commission on Higher Education (TESDA), a course curriculum or training program in entrepreneurship that will promote entrepreneurial culture and competence.
Under Senate Bill 8, a Sustainable Livelihood and Entrepreneurial Development Centre (SLED) is also established in every rural municipality in the country, with priority given to the most economically-depressed areas with the highest percentage of disadvantaged and needy citizens. The SLED shall be responsible for promoting ease of doing business and facilitating access to services for MSMEs and entrepreneurs within its jurisdiction.
“Seeing that MSMEs are the lifeblood of our local economy, we need to broaden its reach, extend its benefits to the countryside, and spur economic activity in other sectors, especially those that can preserve culture and the environment,” Legarda said.
The bill also mandates all lending institutions, whether public or private, to set aside at least 10 percent of their total loan portfolio based on their balance sheet as of the end of the previous quarter for MSMEs and make it available for MSME credit or livelihood support programs.
Another important provision of the bill is the creation of a Recovery Fund for MSMEs and beneficiaries to provide MSMEs with aid, relief, and recovery interventions for disasters, calamities, epidemics, or complex emergencies, such as, but not limited to, the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Compared to larger enterprises, our MSMEs are more susceptible to changes in our economy, which would also affect their capability to employ and expand. Government interventions should address these factors that contribute to the unemployment and underemployment within our working class, as well as poverty incidence among all Filipinos,” Legarda stressed.
Legarda, principal sponsor and author of Republic Act No. 9501 or the Magna Carta for MSMEs, has long underscored the important role that MSMEs play in generating jobs throughout the country, especially in poor municipalities.
When passed into law, the measure would mark the government’s recognition of the pivotal role of MSMEs and entrepreneurs in the Philippines as the backbone of the Philippines economy towards an equitable and sustainable post-pandemic recovery, she said.