SENATOR Bam Aquino filed seven inclusive growth bills in response to President Benigno Aquino III’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) last Monday to ensure that economic gains be felt the marginalized sector.
According to Aquino, these are:
(1) The Social Value Bill, which redefines “value for money” for government procurement as going beyond products and services with the lowest price, but also those which offer “the greatest collective benefit to the community”;
(2) The Fair Competition Bill, which aims to “protect consumer welfare, advance domestic and international trade and sustained economic development by… regulating monopolies, anti-competitive agreements, abuse of dominant power, and anti-competitive measures;
(3) The “Pagkaing Pinoy para sa Batang Pinoy” Bill, which proposes that local feeding programs for kindergarten- and elementary-level students source their food products from local producers and agricultural communities;
(4) The Go Negosyo Bill, which supports micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) with incentives and makes it easier for them to start up;
(5) The Micro Enterprise Development Institutions (“MicroDev”) Bill, which supports micro finance and micro enterprise support groups in order to help the poor start up their own micro businesses;
(6) The Youth Entrepreneurship Bill, which proposes the inclusion of entrepreneurship in secondary and post-secondary education curriculum, as well as the creation of a national program to promote youth entrepreneurship; and
(7) The Social Enterprise Bill, which supports the creation of social enterprises and offers incentives and benefits to business that genuinely help the poor.
Inclusive growth framework
Aquino said that the inclusive framework aims to generate more jobs through the growth of more micro and small businesses.
He said the framework is intended to “level the playing field” for smaller businesses by opening access and promoting fair competition; and “develop a new breed of entrepreneurs” by supporting youth and social entrepreneurship.
Aquino added that the framework also promote ease of business and cut red tape in business registration processes and the like; and support more local entrepreneurs, farmers, fisherfolk, and local producers by pushing for a more “inclusive supply chain” and redefining “value for money.”
He cites a few lines from the President’s SONA and points out that the government’s strategy is to “maximize opportunities for all, especially for those most in need.”
“It was the President himself who said, ‘We are not content to wait for the trickle-down effect; we cannot leave their fate—their receiving the benefits of progress—to chance… Widespread opportunity is the key to comprehensive and sustained progress.’ Through these bills, we are really opening up opportunity to the bottom of the pyramid—to the poor, those in rural communities, and to young people who can now create their own jobs instead of looking for jobs,” he said.
Support for MSMEs and a “bayanihan economy”
“The bottomline here is that we have to create more support for micro and SMEs because they are the ones that create jobs for our people,” Aquino pointed out.
“Marami ring mga potential entrepreneurs ang natatakot na magbukas ng sarili nilang negosyo kasi ang hassle talaga. Ikaw na nga yung magbibigay ng trabaho at buwis sa gobyerno, ikaw pa yung pinahihirapan (We have a lot of potential entrepreneurs who are afraid of staring their own businesses because it’s really a lot of hassle. They’re the ones creating jobs and paying taxes, but government is making it difficult for them to do so). We have some bills that will work together to change that system,” he said
Bam said, “inclusive growth” means a more collaborative environment where even the poorest of the poor will have opportunities to sustain decent jobs and micro businesses, in order for them to have more sustainable sources of income. He borrows a term coined by former NEDA chief, Dr. Cielito Habito, “bayanihan economy”, where the government, the private sector, and even civil society work together to “create access and opportunities for all.”