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PIA Press Release

Siquijor furniture sector seen to grow as PGMA ups loan facility for MSMEs

By Rizalie A. Calibo

Province of Siquijor (14 February) -- In its quest to provide new direction to the local processors in terms of product diversification and the use of locally available raw materials in the island, the local office of Department of Science and Technology-Provincial Science and Technology Center (PSTC) in Siquijor with the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Council (SMEDC) and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) conducted technology training on Furniture and Handicraft Production Using Mixed Media at Pajermo Furniture Shop, Larena Siquijor on February 7-9, 2008.

PSTC Provincial Director Mario de la Peņa said the technology training is new to the furniture sector in the island because this is a mixture of wood, steel or any other indigenous materials like bamboo, vines, coco shells, fibers and other materials. "Its not a new technology but the process is new to them. This production process is now the trend in the market particularly for export," he said.

The speakers of the three day training came from Cebu Furniture Industries Foundation, Inc. (CFIF) in the person of Mr. Ramil Quiapo and Mr. Marcial Roma, Jr. of Don Bosco.

According to Mr. Ramil Quiapo of CFIFI, furniture production using mixed media can demand high cost because of its artistic design and appearance specially if its is well finished. Siquijor producers, he said is not that behind compared to Cebu in terms of wood furniture products but only few processors in the island utilized kiln dried (KD) lumber, which is the main criteria of buyers of furniture products. "They look for processors who were using kiln dried lumber then the design and finish will follow," he said.

The training is part of the government's effort to accelerate the growth of small-scale enterprises and boost the government's anti-poverty and anti-hunger programs. As reported earlier, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has ordered an increase of up to P50 billion in loan facility for these micro,small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) this year.

The President also directed Presidential Management Staff (PMS) Director-General Cerge Remonde, who is also the oversight official for MSMEs, to study the possibility of further lowering the interest rates on loans to micro enterprises.

The presidential directive was also addressed to government financial institutions (GFIs).

He said the President issued the order in a move to "sustain their (MSMEs) indispensable contributions to the country's overall economic growth and generate more jobs and income for the people."

Last year, P25 billion was allocated for the administration's microlending program. This year' credit facility for MSMEs has been raised to P40-P50 billion, P32 billion of which will be made available to SMEs.

At the same time, Remonde called on Congress to finally pass the amendment to the Magna Carta for Entrepreneurs now in the bicameral conference committee.

He explained that the President's order on "frontloading of MSMEs" came in tandem with her directive on the "frontloading" of infrastructure projects to strengthen the government's anti-poverty and anti-hunger programs.

The PMS chief cited the success of the MSMEs program, which covers almost all municipalities nationwide, mostly in conflict areas, including the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi and Basilan).

This success, Remonde said, was reflected in a recent survey which showed a decline of self-rated poverty from 57 percent three months ago to 46 percent -- the lowest since 1987.

Remonde described the survey result as solid proof that government efforts to fight poverty is "gaining ground." The MSMEs development thrust is very much a part of the poverty-alleviation program, he added.

So far, 1,458 municipalities are already covered by the MSMEs program. The areas still not yet covered will be given priority this year, Remonde added.

"We have the funds for the program since the repayment of past loans is 98 percent. This is the reason why we have enough money," he said.

The PMS head also pointed out that the proposed amendment to the Magna Carta for SMEs would further boost MSMEs as it would require banks to set aside 10 percent of their total loan portfolio for SMEs.

Current loan interest rates for SMEs range from 9 percent to 14 percent, while those for microfinance range from 10 percent to 12 percent per annum. (PIA/with Engr. Mario. de la Peņa/DOST) [top]

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