THE Department of Science and Technology (DOST) has increased the budget of its Small Enterprise Technology Upgrading Program (Setup) by P4 million from P55 million in 2016 to P59.8 million for the Zamboanga Peninsula this 2017.

DOST Assistant Regional Director for Field Operation Services Mahmud Kingking said the budget increase will enable them to financially assist 53 Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) projects this year.

Kingking said they were able to financially assist 36 projects of MSMEs last year in the region.

The 36 MSME-beneficiaries of last year are the following: Zamboanga del Sur, 17; Zamboanga Sibugay, 8; Zamboanga City, 6; and Zamboanga del Norte, 5.

Kingking said most of the MSMEs that received assistance are into agriculture-related projects. The others are into food processing, metal fabrication and furniture business.

Setup focuses its assistance on six priority sectors, such as food processing, furniture, gifts, decors and handicrafts, marine and aquatic resources, horticulture, and metal and engineering.

Setup is a nationwide strategy to assist manufacturing and processing enterprises under the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in adopting technological innovations to improve their operations and thus boost productivity and competitiveness.

Kingking said the DOST, through the Setup, also provides training for the beneficiary-MSMEs aside from helping acquire the needed equipment to boost their productivity.

The equipment that was purchased will be paid by the beneficiary of the program for a three-year period through the rent-to-own scheme.

Kingking said the MSMEs that are beneficiary of the Setup are closely monitored and required to submit periodic reports to ensure sustainability of the project. (Bong Garcia/SunStar Philippines)