Jan 052015

MANILA, Philippines – The Senate will push for the passage of the Cabotage Law and competition policy which are seen to help promote the development of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) this year.

According to Sen. Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV, who chairs the Senate Committee on Trade, Commerce and Entrepreneurship, he is committed to work on the passage of the two bills this year.

Aquino said the inclusion of the two bills in the President’s priority legislative agenda this year is a welcome development as both are seen to promote the growth o MSMEs.

Senate Bill (SB) No. 2364, filed by Aquino, seeks to amend Section 1009 of the Presidential Decree No. 1464, otherwise known as the Tariff and Customs Code of 1978, in response to the President’s call to relax the country’s policies on cabotage.

This, as it is cheaper to send products from other countries to the Philippines than to ship goods within the country.

For instance the cost of shipping a 20-foot equivalent unit container from Kaohsiung in Taiwan to Cagayan de Oro is $360 or P16,000 only, while the cost of shipping the same cargo from Manila to Cagayan de Oro will take $1,120 or almost P50,000.

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If the proposed measure is enacted into law, foreign ships would be allowed to call in multiple ports, which would in effect lower the logistics costs.

SB No. 2282 or the Fair Competition Act of 2014, meanwhile, aims to create a level playing field and shield small business owners and consumers from companies engaged in unfair business practices.

If passed into law, Filipino consumers would benefit in terms of getting a wider range of high-quality products and services at reasonable prices to choose from.

“We’d like to put these policies in place this year to sustain the momentum of our growth we’ve experienced the past few years,” Aquino said.

He said the swift passage of the measures is expected given their inclusion in the priority legislative agenda.

“These measures have been in the legislative pipeline for a long time. Finally, some political will to get difficult reforms passed which are pro-poor, pro-business and will lower cost of goods,” he said.

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