THE Pampanga Provincial Livelihood Committee (PLC) will conduct a series of assessment cum consultation meetings with various stakeholders of its "Aku ing Bayung Enteprenyur - Kapampangan (ABE-K) program in the province.

This was learned from Mamerto Gatus, head of the Provincial Cooperative and Entrepreneurial Development Office (PCEDO) and member of the PLC.

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Starting January 8, the members of the livelihood committee headed by Pampanga Governor Eddie T. Panlilio will meet directly with the beneficiaries and non-beneficiaries alike of the ABE-K program to review and assess the program's best practices including its strong and weak points.

"We aim to directly hear from the program beneficiaries their actual experiences in the ABE-K, what aspects they want to improve on and other assistance and services they need from the Provincial Government," Gatus said.

The results of the assessment and consultation meetings will be consolidated and shall serve as inputs to further improve the program implementation.

"Our first stop would be at the People's Park in Floridablanca town where there are existing 17 ABE-K associations," he said as he added that they are expecting to meet with 2,000 participants in their visits to the province's 20 towns and one city.

After Floridablanca, the assessment shall cover the towns of Sta. Rita, Sta. Ana, Magalang, Macabebe, and San Luis for the month of January.

The assessment and consultation meetings in the other remaining areas are expected to be completed before the end of the first quarter.

The members of the PLC will act as panelists in the consultation meetings to readily respond to the queries of the target participants and at the same time inform them of the services of the Provincial Government which they can avail themselves of.

"We envision empowering the beneficiaries of our livelihood program by providing them with adequate knowledge, information and skills trainings to improve their economic conditions," Gatus said.

ABE-K is the flagship program of the Panlilio administration, which was launched in December 2007 in order to fight poverty and provide livelihood opportunities to target beneficiaries in the province.

The program is ably implemented by the PLC which aside from PCEDO has for its members the Provincial Employment Services Office (Peso), Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office (PSWDO), Provincial Treasurer's Office (PTC), Provincial Training Center (PTC) and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) among others.

Gatus said each ABE-K association received loans ranging from P50,000 to P150,000 from the Provincial Government to finance small scale income generating projects such as direct selling, sari-sari store, fruit and atchara vending, repacking, silver works, ready-to-wear, electronics and bicycle parts, catering, e-load and fishball selling.

The program has been recently expanded to include the sectors of out-of-school youths and indigenous peoples (IPs).

To date, 30 IPs in Barangay Calumpang, Mabalacat, and 87 IPs in Barangay Nabuklod, Camachile, and Mawacat in Floridablanca are among the latest ABE-K beneficiaries along with the 30 OSYs in Magalang, Gatus ended. (Erlinda T. Yutuc/Pampanga PIO)