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DTI budget cut for MSMEs still open to augmentation

THE reduced P2.25-billion budget for the Department of Trade and Industry’s (DTI) micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) development program reflects the distribution of other forms of MSME support to various agencies, and leaves room for companies to step in with public-private partnership (PPP) projects, a legislator said during 2023 budget deliberations.

Pangasinan Rep. Christopher V.P. De Venecia, said the General Appropriations Bill contains small-business support programs across various agencies.

Mr. De Venecia, who was the lead legislator in evaluating the DTI budget, said MSME funding attributed to the DTI fell P1.23 billion compared with 2022, but added: “If you are to review (the budget proposal), then maybe (the budget cut) might not be that significant… (because) government-owned and -controlled corporations (GOCCs), as well as other agencies, also provide support for MSMEs,” he added. “Each government agency actually implements programs that cater to MSMEs.”

He said the DTI’s budget request for the program was double the 2022 level, adding that the House is still free to augment funding levels as it sees fit.

Mr. De Venecia said the Departments of Science and Technology and Agriculture also have programs that support MSMEs.

“I believe that the package that is being provided for the MSMEs is actually bigger than what it seems in the DTI budget,” Mr. De Venecia added.

Camarines Sur Rep. Gabriel H. Bordado noted that the revitalization of the MSMEs was a top administration priority, as cited by President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. at the MSME Summit 2022.

Party-list Rep. Marissa P. Magsino expressed concern about the lack of funding to implement Republic Act 11904, or the Philippine Creative Industries Development Act.

Mr. De Venecia said the DTI initially proposed P1 billion to implement the law in the National Expenditure Program, leading Ms. Magsino to call for restoration of the funding. — Kyanna Angela Bulan