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PIA Press Release

Abra SMED Council addresses investment concerns

BANGUED, Abra (20 October) -- The Provincial Small and Medium Enterprises Development Council (PSMEDC) chaired by Romeo M. Balbin had come up with a provincial SMED plan harmonized with the national SMED plan of the Arroyo administration.

This was the output of the localization and harmonization workshop conducted by the Department of Trade and Industry in the province last October 17 at the Governors' Gallery at the Provincial Capitol. The workshop was facilitated by Mylene Manuel, SMED Regional Coordinator and the DTI-Abra staff led by Henry A. Reyes, the provincial caretaker.

Results of the workshops showed that the bibingca and other native delicacies and handicrafts sectors are the sectors in business that are most effected by the investment environment. The PSMEDC described the investment environment as an unfriendly-business climate because of the high stall rentals and fees collected at the Bangued Central Market where most of the affected SMEs conduct their business.

Because of this, the PSMEDC recommends that a public hearing be conducted to thresh out the need to review and re-assess the taxes and fees imposed on the stall owners and the implementation of the Barangay Micro Business Enterprises (BMBE) Law.

The PSMEDC also identified the lack of capital and limited access to financing for the expansion of their businesses. The Government Financial Institutions (GFIs) impose voluminous documentary requirements and entail a very long and tedious processing of the loans. Hence a recommendation for the GFIs to establish a loan window with affordable loan packages for the specific sectors so that they could also cope with the demands for expansion and competitiveness.

Aside form the problems of financing and high rates of taxes levied by government on SMEs, the provincial council also raised the need for an improved productivity and quality. The members saw the need for electric-driven tools and equipment for better quality and quantity of outputs to enable the SMEs to meet customer demands. Thus, the request for technical assistance in the mechanization processes of production, product packaging, and funds assistance for the procurement of tools and equipment.

The furniture and home furnishings sector had the dwindling supply of raw materials as their major problem. Because of this, the need for regular replanting of trees and the regulation of the transport of unfinished products like wood flitches was emphasized.

The provincial SMED plan formulated by the council is Abra's contribution to PGMA's ambitious vision of pushing the Republic to attain a First World Status in 2015 and in keeping attuned with the targets of the Millennium Development Goals to eradicate poverty through education and health care services, infrastructures and investments and help create 6M jobs in 6 years. (PIA-Abra) [top]

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