Presidential aspirant Vice President Leni Robredo wants to empower micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to address the country’s high unemployment rate and job losses amid the pandemic.
“Dapat tulungan natin iyong mga MSMEs dahil karamihan sa mga negosyo natin ay pinamumunuan ng mga maliliit na mga negosyante. At ang MSMEs natin iyon ang nagbibigay ng napakaraming (We need to help our MSMEs because most of our businesses are being led by small entrepreneurs. And the MSMEs are the ones giving plenty of) employment opportunities,” she told her Laguna-based supporters during a virtual meet-and-greet on Tuesday, Jan. 18.
The virtual meet-up with supporters in Laguna, which was organized by Robredo People’s Council, aims to provide a platform to supporters to air their concerns directly to the Vice President.
If she wins, Robredo will also provide conditional stimulus grants to small businesses provided that they don’t retrench workers, or commit to rehire them when their businesses pick up.
She also wants to give small businesses access to capital through low-interest loans, which will jumpstart businesses that suffered because of the pandemic.
Two other initiatives of Robredo also include the wage subsidy and unemployment insurance programs.
Patterned after similar programs in other country, the unemployment insurance will provide a certain amount of money to those covered for a short period until they can find jobs or their companies rehire them.
“Ginagawa ito sa ibang bansa na pag nawalan ka ng trabaho merong (This is being done in other countries that if you lose your job, you have an) unemployment insurance kapag ang (if the) cause ng pagkawala ng trabaho ay hindi mo kasalanan (of the job loss isn’t your fault),” Robredo explained.
The aspiring president also stressed the importance of a public employment and retraining program.
The government, she said, should provide a mechanism to match unemployed Filipinos to jobs that are appropriate to their skill level. And if they do not have the skills, the retraining program should open opportunities for learning.
She cited her Sikap.ph initiative, an online jobs matching platform for blue-collar jobs.
Robredo noted that out of 28,000 to 29,000 jobs available, only 16,000 were filled as of three months ago because of the lack of skills of job applicants.
“Gusto sabihin dapat ang pamahalaan siya ‘yung nagsisiguro na meron tayong (What I mean is the government should make sure we have) retraining, meron tayong (we have) upscaling para iyong mga (so the) skills na kinakailangan nung mga trabahong (needed by the jobs) available natutulungan iyong mga kababayan natin na mag-qualify sila doon (will help our fellowmen qualify for them),” she explained.
The lady official lamented that only one out of every 15 applicants in the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry are getting hired because of the lack of skills.
In the long term, Robredo’s main thrust is to bring back investor confidence in the country.
“Iyong gobyerno talaga kailangan maging tapat kasi pag tapat ang gobyerno iyong (The government should really be honest because if the government is honest, the) investors papasok (will come in),” she said, noting that the country lost investors because the business climate wasn’t friendly.