Cayetano pledges help for exporters

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Tuesday, February 19, 2013


URGING Filipinos to patronize Philippine-made products is one way of supporting the local export industry, Senate minority leader Alan Peter Cayetano said yesterday.

In his visit to Cebu, Cayetano said he would push for more projects aimed at supporting Cebu’s export industry, particularly the furniture sector, in the midst of the strong currency exchange rate and global market uncertainties.

Cayetano visited workers of Woven Furniture Designs Inc. in Liloan, Cebu.

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He said he is on a “listening tour” on PiTiK: Presyo, Trabaho and Kita to get update on how the benefits of today’s economy have trickled down to the people, particularly how inflation, employment, opportunities and wage levels have affected those in the grassroots.

Cayetano is running for re-election as a senator under the Nacionalista Party with the Team PNoy coalition.

He told the workers it would take some time for the 6.6 percent growth in gross domestic product (GDP) to trickle down but what they can do is help the government speed it up. He said this “listening tour” would help them come up with good inputs in the Senate because they would know the sentiments in the grassroots.

Production supervisor Elmer Rivera expressed his concern over the continued appreciation of the peso. He said more export companies might close down and more workers might lose their jobs as the exchange rate of the peso remains strong against the dollar.

“Our concern is that if we lose orders we don’t know where we are going,” Rivera said during the dialogue with the senator.

The global economic crisis that started in 2008 forced furniture companies in Cebu to close operations and lay off thousands of workers.

Recommendations

The short dialogue covered most of Cayetano’s recommendations on how companies, workers, lawmakers and government can work together in helping the export industry. He said workers like Rivera should not lose hope as they are studying programs that would boost investments and employment in the country.

He suggested mall operators and property developers to lessen the importation of furniture and showcase instead Philippine-made products. He said the country has world-class products that have high chances to compete globally. He said Filipinos should embrace the concept of loving and buying its own products.

Cayetano also encouraged those workers who have social networking sites to “generate their own publicity” through photos and stories to attract more buyers, especially Filipinos abroad.

He also stressed that while tourism is “more fun” in the Philippines, the Trade Department should also come up with an attractive marketing plan bearing a strong slogan that it is “better (to buy products) if made in the Philippines.”

Skills training

He also encouraged workers to maximize the skills training programs offered by government agencies like the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority to become versatile in business.

Cayetano also urged them to venture into livelihood programs to boost family income. He said they are studying a program that would give incentives to people who would put up businesses.

Another program he will also push is access to cheap capital, especially for micro and small enterprises, to eradicate the popular “5-6” loan operation.

He said creating and expanding existing cooperatives will allow coop members to get loans with interests of three to five percent, unlike the 20 percent charged by “5-6” operators.

As for growing investments in the country, Cayetano identified peace and order, high price of electricity, changing policies, and corruption as among hindrances in terms of attracting investors.

But he believes that as long as the country offers more incentives, new businesses will open up.

“They need more than tax incentives,” said Cayetano. “It is having a system of incentives that the spirit of entrepreneurship propagates.”

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on February 20, 2013.

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