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Feature: MSMEs boost govt's anti-poverty & anti-hunger programs

by T. Villavert

Iloilo City (8 February) -- Around 1,458 municipalities in the country are already covered by Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), said Secretary Cerge Remonde who stressed that this has contributed to the country's economic growth and generated more jobs and income for the people.

Secretary Remonde, who is the Director-General of the Presidential Management Staff and also the oversight official for MSMEs, said the success was reflected in a recent survey which showed a decline of self-rated poverty from 57% three months ago to 46 percent, the lowest since l987.

He described the survey result as a 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, Remonde said as he emphasized that the areas still not covered will be given priority this year.

Last year, some P25 billion was allocated for the administration's micro-lending program. This year's credit facility for MSMEs has been raised to P40-50 billion, P32 billion of which will be made available to SMEs.

The increase of the allocation will accelerate the growth of small-scale enterprises and boost the government's anti-poverty and anti-hunger programs, Remonde said.

Recently, Secretary Remonde was directed by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to study the possibility of further lowering the interest rates on loans to micro enterprises.

The Malacanang press report disclosed that the current loan interest rates for SMEs range from 9 percent to 14 percent, while those for micro-finance range from 10 percent to 12 percent per annum. (PIA) [top]

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