Improving the Philippine economic engine

Posted by watchmen
March 5, 2020
Posted in OPINION

A country’s economy can be likened to a big engine. And just like an actual engine, it has to be fine-tuned, tweaked, or even upgraded, to be as efficient a machine as it can be. Lately, there have been some actions to make sure that the Philippine economic engine will, potentially, become a more efficient and profitable one.
One is that as Chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance, we made sure that the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) was given an increase in the 2020 budget. From P6.1 billion last year, they will have P7.98 billion this year, so that various programs can be pursued. This budget includes those for DTI-attached agencies, such as the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), which was placed under the DTI only last year.
An important project will be that for Shared Service Facilities (SSF), which will be given P574 million. The SSF project will improve the quality of emerging micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) by providing them with access to processing machines or equipment for common use. SSFs have proven to be effective particularly for food manufacturing MSMEs, increasing their profitability considerably.
More Negosyo Centers, too, will be established, as these can help MSMEs get set up faster. This can be done through mentoring and advisory services, as well as assistance with credit, financing, market information, supplies, and buyers.
Another P200 million will also go to the One Town, One Product (OTOP) Next Gen program, which is meant to level up products and services through innovation in quality, standards, marketability, and other aspects of product and brand development.
These are only some of the programs that will be implemented by the expanded DTI budget. One of our major tasks now is to monitor and ensure that they are implemented as envisioned.
To continually improve and innovate though, we have to keep on studying and analyzing what we’ve done. That is why have signed and filed on the 11th of February this year a resolution urging the Senate Committee on Finance to conduct an inquiry in the aid of legislation about budgetary appropriations and implementations concerning our government’s industrialization and employment-generating initiatives in the 2020 General Appropriations Act.
This is an important inquiry, as we must take stock of what our government will spend this year—and intends to invest in the coming years — when it comes to supporting such areas as information technology and business process outsourcing (IT-BPO), tourism, creative industries and other services, trade, manufacturing, agriculture and fisheries, logistics, shipping, research and development (R&D) and other productive sectors.
We must ask ourselves: will these investments be in line with the Constitutional mandate for promoting industrialization, employment, expanded productivity, and an increase in the goods and services that Filipino workers, craftsmen, artisans, and entrepreneurs can produce? Timelines and long-term goals should also be considered, so that our country’s economic strategies will map out a path to a better future. This can be done in five-year plans, or as the need for strategic adjustments may dictate. It is hoped that this inquiry can bring all interested parties and stakeholders together, so that the General Appropriations Act for 2021 will reflect the results of this inquiry in aid of legislation.
With all this happening, I am convinced more than ever that projects that showcase Philippine innovation and ingenuity — be it in skills, materials, services, or products — should be given a special imprimatur, a program that can unify our country’s brand, as it may be. This is why I am actively pushing for a nationwide Tatak Pinoy (Made in the Philippines) initiative, which will be applied to all productive sectors, to encourage inclusive growth across the whole country. By creating the Tatak Pinoy brand, we make not only a name for ourselves in the global stage, but also a promise to ourselves to continue striving to make our products and services better. Our standards after all should be at par with international ones — and indeed, we should aspire to products and services whose quality are even better than most.
In the end, the DTI budget expansion, the call for an inquiry by the Finance Committee, and our push for Tatak Pinoy are all about how we must shift from being a consuming society, to one that produces, and eventually innovates.

Sen. Sonny Angara has been in public service for 15 years — nine years as Representative of the Lone District of Aurora, and six as Senator. He has authored and sponsored more than 200 laws. He recently won another term in the Senate. (Email:| Facebook, Twitter & Instagram: @sonnyangara)/WDJ

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