Senator Risa Hontiveros on Thursday called on the government to speed up its digital transformation program to prevent micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) from closing shop and laying off their workers.
“Double time dapat sa pagsalba sa maliliit na negosyo para maisalba rin ang ekonomiya (We should work double time to save small business and our economy as well). Let’s maximize the use of technology at alalayan natin sila (and guide them) to further harness digital opportunities,” Hontiveros said in a statement.
She stressed that small businesses need the government’s support in providing the digital infrastructure especially during the COVID-19 pandemic when transactions have shifted online in terms of purchases and payments.
She pointed out that an overwhelming majority of the businesses in the country are comprised of MSMEs, and said half of them have already shut down due to the crisis.
“Limited movement of people means less customers for enterprises. And we’re expecting this scenario will not end soon. Marami na ang nakapagsimula sa online business during the community quarantine pero maraming negosyo pa rin ang napag-iwanan (Many have started online businesses during the community quarantine but several more are left behind),” she said.
“Now’s the urgent time to fast-track the implementation of this roadmap to help small businesses,” she appealed.
Hontiveros said small business owners could be given free training though webinars to increase their awareness and know-how in using digital tools and applications for running their businesses.
She also suggested the grant of subsidies for internet connectivity. Local governments should promote these programs, too, she said.
Meanwhile, Hontiveros reiterated her call for the patronage of local products to also support the country’s businesses amid the crisis.
“Para mapigilan ang pagsasara ng mga ito, tangkilikin at isulong natin ang mga maliliit na negosyo (To prevent their shutdown, we should support and promote the products of small businesses). Sila sana ang una nating maisip kung kailangan natin ng pagkain, inumin, face masks, at iba pang essential needs (They should be first to come to our minds when we need to buy food, drinks, face masks, and other essentials),” she said.