Apr 242013

As the midterm election draws near, the call to vote for the most deserving candidates becomes stronger. We need people who can help us sustain the positive economic climate that we are having. We know that the backbone of our economy is the MSMEs, but aside from their innate entrepreneurial mindset, they will need a legislator who can push for laws that will make success easier for them to attain.

I came across Sonny Angara during our Technopreneur summit last January, and I really find his track record quite impressive. As he runs for a higher position this coming elections, I asked him what is in store for the micro, small, and medium negosyantes should he get elected. Let me share with you his answers.

Entrepreneurship creates jobs. Do you think this is a very good alternative to the OFW phenomenon?

Yes, definitely. The main reason why our OFWs have to go to other countries is to look for jobs that they cannot find here. Thus, if we can create the needed jobs through successful business ventures, there will be no  necessity for our OFWs to seek employment abroad. Having more entrepreneurs that employ our workforce would mean lesser Filipinos having to leave the country and their families.

What are your platforms to support job generation through entrepreneurship?

To generate decent jobs, I have been pushing for economic and investment policies that promote growth and development of the economy since I became a legislator. To date, I have principally authored at least seven laws that are aimed at improving the country’s business climate. One such law which has a direct impact on our entrepreneurs is RA 9510 or the Credit Information System Act which aims to broaden access to credit, especially to small borrowers (particularly MSMEs), by reducing reliance on collateral and thru lower credit costs.

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Given the chance, I will continue to push for similar measures that aim to develop and help establish budding entrepreneurs. One of these is to work for the enactment of my bill which seeks to establish a Business One-Stop Shop (BOSS) centers that will cater to the needs of small and medium enterprises, from their registration up to their operations, and provide supplementary services such as information and linkages, project monitoring, research and policy studies, and information dissemination campaigns.

Moreover, given the economic profile of most Filipino families, it is imperative that government supports the growth of more public tech-vocational schools that will provide immediate employable skills, as well as knowledge and training in establishing a new business. To this end, I will push for the enactment of my bill requiring all provinces and highly-urbanized cities to establish tech-vocational and skills training schools. I will also push for the inclusion of entrepreneurship as a separate subject at the high school level in all public and private schools. Entrepreneurship is envisioned to encourage students to be job creators instead of job seekers. Another policy that I aim to put in place is the provision of incentives to new graduates who want to venture into business after graduation.

The key to the growth of entrepreneurship is the expanding network of enterprises it generates. How do you think the government can help Go Negosyo, or other entrepreneur-friendly NGOs, champion the success formula of entrepreneurship further?

I will lay down policies that will support networks of entrepreneurs or businesses. I believe that we must have a program that assists our LGUs and local business networks in setting up mechanisms that create a conducive environment for economic growth.

I would propose a measure that will mandate government agencies with special concern on employment, such as but not limited, to the Department of Labor and Employment, Cooperative Development Authority, Department of Trade and Industry, Department of Interior and Local Government, Department of Agriculture, Bureau of Internal Revenue, and National Anti-Poverty Commission, to draw and adopt sustainable programs for the empowerment of various associations of entrepreneurs. These agencies will also be tasked to provides technical support to networks of entrepreneurs as well as expand credit facilities to them. Moreover, the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) provides training and certification to networks of entrepreneurs to enable them to upgrade their members’ entrepreneurial and occupational capacity.

What do you think are the changes that we need to adopt to make our education more oriented towards promoting entrepreneurship?

Our youth should be made aware of the vast opportunities and benefits of being an entrepreneur, and of having a business of their own. Thus, entrepreneurial education should be made an integral part of our basic education. Our students should know that entrepreneurship is a good alternative to employment. They should be equipped with the necessary information and competencies about the subject. To this end, I filed HB 559 that mandates DepEd to make entrepreneurial and financial literacy education an integral part of secondary education, to raise generations of businessmen and investors who will create jobs not only for themselves but for others as well.

One of the things that hamper the growth of entrepreneurship is corruption and red tape in the local government levels. How do you think we can solve this problem?

Red tape is killing us in so many ways—it discourages people from being entrepreneurs because they don’t want to deal with the government, and it discourages investors who prefer to do business in friendlier jurisdictions. The Anti-Red Tape Act or RA 9485 was enacted in 2007 as a response to the urgent need to establish an effective system that will eliminate bureaucratic red tape, avert graft and corrupt practices and improve efficiency of delivering government frontline service.

The law mandates all national departments and agencies, as well as local government units (LGUs) to simplify procedures and establish citizen’s charters that will provide clear service standards governing transactions. In 2010, it was reported that 74 percent of the national agencies came out with their respective ctizen’s charters. As a senator, I aim to provide good oversight on this matter. If need be, the act must be strengthened and LGUs provided with the needed resources, training and education.

Out of 183 economies surveyed, the Philippines ranked 136 in the Ease of Doing Business Report of the World Bank for 2012, falling two notches lower than its rank of 134 during the previous year. To start a business in the country, one has to go through an average of 15 steps and wait for 35 days (World Bank 2012).

Given this, I have proposed HB 416 or the Business One-Stop Shop (BOSS) that aims to establish centers that will cater to the needs of small and medium enterprises, from their registration up to their operations, as well as provide supplementary services, such as information and referrals needed for a firm, project monitoring research and policy studies and information dissemination campaigns. It aims to simplify procedures and create one-stop shops for service provision by government.

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