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Legarda Bats for “Bibingka Economics”

April 11, 2013

A job creation revolution in the provinces, especially in low-income class municipalities, has long been possible under existing laws that significantly enlarge the micro-enterprises base nationwide. This is according to reelectionist Senator Loren Legarda, principal author of the Magna Carta for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME), Barangay Kabuhayan Act, and the Agri-Agra Reform Credit Act.

During the Inquirer Senate Forum, Legarda said that what is just needed is the full implementation of these laws and an extensive and sustained awareness campaign among the people.

“Mayroon na tayong mga polisiya at batas na syang tutugon sa kahirapan at magpapaunlad ng kabuhayan. Kailangan lang i-implement ng mabuti,” Legarda said.

Legarda said these laws would ensure that there is “bibingka economics” or economic growth from the grassroots.

“Ibig sabihin mula sa ilalim ang paglago, na gaya ng pagluto ng bibingka, may apoy sa ilalim. Kailangan ang paglago ng kabuhayan, manggaling sa ilalim,” she stressed, referring to former President Fidel V. Ramos’s symbolism of the “bibingka” as the best path towards progress.

Legarda said the MSME law was enacted to help build up micro, small and medium enterprises nationwide and increase the incomes of underprivileged families, especially those in the provinces.

The law helps facilitate the access of micro, small and medium enterprises to sources of funds, requiring lending institutions to set aside for them at least 8 percent of their loan portfolio.

Micro and small enterprises availing of financing programs and incentives are also not required to undergo burdensome collateral requirements.

On the other hand, the Barangay Kabuhayan Law seeks to empower would-be micro entrepreneurs through skills trainings offered by the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) in 4th, 5th and 6th class municipalities.

Legarda said the Agri-Agra Reform Credit Act requires banks to allocate 25 percent of their loanable funds to the agriculture sector to finance the acquisition of work animals, farm equipment or machinery, seeds, fertilizers, livestock, feeds or other similar items for farm production.

A report from the Department of Trade and Industry shows that programs for MSMEs have generated a total employment of over 920,000 from July 2011 to June 2012 alone. New MSMEs assisted or created reached over 180,000. About 76,000 MSMEs expanded their operations.

“We need to sustain these gains because aside from generating employment opportunities and better incomes, MSMEs are powerful platforms for promotion of viable rural livelihoods, cultural preservation, socio-economic empowerment of indigenous peoples, and environmental protection,” Legarda emphasized.