A PARTY-list group Tuesday urged presidential bets to lay down their concrete plans for the growth and development of micro-entrepreneurship, saying these small businesses have become the backbone of the country’s economy.

In a statement, lawyer Norman Tayag, secretary general of Ang Kasangga, sounded the call as he said that he has yet to hear from the present roster of presidential candidates, both from the administration and the opposition, about their plans for both formal and informal micro-entrepreneurs.

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“Our hardworking and honest micro-entrepreneurs are the new heroes of our times. The role they play is crucial in uplifting the country’s economy, and therefore, they deserve all our support,” Tayag said.

“The sector of micro-entrepreneurs absorbs unemployed members of our society, those unable to find jobs in the open market. They also provide input to the formal sector ranging from manufacturing parts and supplies, to labor for production,’ he added.

Citing the 2006 data from the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), the group said that 99.7 percent of all Philippine businesses were classified as Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs).

Of these, 92 percent fell under micro-enterprises generating a total of 1,667,823 jobs, or 33.5 percent of all jobs created by the MSME sector in 2006.

Tayag explained that micro-entrepreneurs need to be supported and protected by law because most of them, especially those in the informal sector, have no access to bank loans, no formal training in business management, and lack of social protection.

“We do hope that with the passage into law of the Magna Carta for MSMEs two years ago, our micro-entrepreneurs will be protected. Ang Kasangga which represents micro-entrepreneurs will work hard to ensure that it is properly implemented,” he said.

The Magna Carta for MSMEs, logged as Republic Act 9501, recognizes MSMEs’ potential for more employment generation and economic growth and therefore can help provide a self-sufficient industrial foundation for the country.

The group has prided itself as the voice of the country’s small businesses. Since its inception in 2004, Ang Kasangga has grown strong from 45,000 to 260,000 card-bearing members, most of whom are sari-sari stores and food stall owners, and market vendors, jeepney, tricycle and bus drivers and operators, and blind masseurs.

But the group was criticized when it named Ma. Lourdes Arroyo, sister-in-law of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, as its representative in the Lower House. (AH/Sunnex)