Hail, the Traders

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By Benjie R. Pangan

At Close Range

Sunday, March 11, 2012


THE backbone of a country's economy is the cluster of small but consistent traders who survive on shoestring budgets and goods possessed on consignment. To these normally low-income traders, there is no such thing as capital flight, as is usually done by huge capitalists who hoard money in the country and then send it overseas for safekeeping and later for investment in high-yielding instruments and market bonds.

Expectedly, the main problem besetting these small time traders is small or inadequate working capital and the difficulty in accessing bank loans and credit.

It is therefore welcome news that the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) has announced the creation of a new credit surety fund (CSF) to boost the financial standing of micro small and medium-sized enterprises or MSME in the country.

In its statement, the BSP disclosed that "with the establishment of CSFs, low-income traders will get as much chance as the high-income ones to expand their businesses and increase their profits."

For our purpose, CSF is defined as a pool of money contributed by cooperatives, local government units, state-owned banks and other entities which will serve as collateral for MSMEs applying for bank loans.

Initially, the scheme was launched in the Visayas which is now teeming with cooperatives, some active and others on the brink of closure due to non-interest of members.

If the BSP's vision pushes through widely, the purpose for which the CSF is created may not be diminished. Also, according to the press statement, the improved access to loans and other financial services of the country's lending institutions is viewed as "one of the key measures that the BSP believes will be crucial to achieving inclusive economic growth."

MSMEs, it was also reported, account for over 90 percent of enterprises in the country and provide for 70 percent of employment opportunities. With their rise, the middle class should also come up stronger, beefing up the country's social stratum with ever ready resources and manpower.

--oo0oo--

Justified increase, may be. The good members of the Sangguniang Bayan of Mabalacat and other stakeholders must have some solid reasons in increasing the terminal fee, from P80 to P100 per bus at the well-patronized Mabalacat bus terminal based in Dau: parking fee, from P65 to P85 and development fee, same at P15. The increase was justified, according to source since more than three years have elapsed since the P80 terminal fee was adjusted and prices have already increased three-fold.

Definitely, the increase of P20 will go a long way in keeping the bus terminal litter-free, well-paved and orderly. As every user must have noted, frequent improvements have been introduced into this joint venture enterprise between the LGU of Mabalacat, headed by Mayor Marino "Boking" Morales and the Baron-Castro families. One question comes up though: has this joint venture been registered with the Bureau of Internal Revenue and the Securities and Exchange Commission, as provided for in its initiating Ordinance sometime in 1997?

--oo0oo--

A timely justification for the conduct of the yearly SPES appeared in the Philippine Daily Inquirer issue of March 9, 2012, a Friday: The year 2012 marks the 20th anniversary of the implementation of the Special Program for the Employment of Students, which was first enacted under RA 7323 on February 6, 1992 and amended under RA 9574, which took effect on April 2009.

Under the program, the LGU pays 60% for the student's salaries while the Department of Labor and Employment or DOLE foots the remaining 40%. This program has helped thousands of poor but deserving students via their employment during summer and/or Christmas vacations.

At PESO Mabalacat, several SPES babies have already graduated and have found gainful employment in prestigious firms like Alena Remo who now is the HR head at Jumbo Jenra Dau. Another successful SPES participant is Sheena Consul, a protégé of SPO4 Francisco "Soc" Ronquillo of the Mabalacat Police Station. Sheena is now the recruitment head of Gain Manpower, an agency recruiting workers for local employment.

I personally endorse the SPES program's continued implementation so as to help, in a modest way, poor but deserving students of Mabalacat, by way of training them in suitable environment, such as the Mabalacat Water District headed by GM Atty. Francis A. Dimaliwat who, by the way, is known for his no-nonsense managerial ways and style. Many SPES participants want to be assigned at the water district because, according to those who have been assigned there, the work ethics are excellent and they have learned considerably during their 20-day stint at the water facility chaired by long-serving Deng Pangilinan.

Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on March 12, 2012.

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