April 27, 2018, 6:52 am
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1 Philippine Peso = 0.07067 UAE Dirham
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1 Philippine Peso = 1 Philippine Peso
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Lack of financial inclusion continues to restrain MSME sector’s growth: Study

A recent labor report on the Philippines suggests government should evaluate how well micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) are able to access credit, noting that MSMEs continue to have poor productivity and generate low employment numbers due to lack of financial inclusion. 

While dominant, MSMEs remain weak, struggling against a number of challenges and constraints to their growth, according to a 2017 study on Philippine labor trends published recently by the International Labor Organization (ILO).

The ILO report, “Decent Work Country Diagnostics: Philippines 2017,” said  of the 947,000 registered establishments employing 7.78 million workers nationwide in 2014, MSMEs accounted for more than 99 percent of the total. 

Of the total figure, micro and small enterprises employed 55 percent or 4.28 million workers. Large enterprises employed 38 percent or 2.97 million. Medium enterprises represent a “missing” or “thin” middle, employing only 6.8 percent or about 530,000 

“MSMEs-particularly micro and small enterprises-have a bigger employment share at 60 per cent than large enterprises but account for only 36 per cent of GDP,” said the report. 

It further stated most MSMEs are in the services sector regardless of employment size. In industry, meanwhile, manufacturing comprised the bulk of establishments and employment. Agriculture had the least share in number of establishments and employment, with work and employment arrangements being informal and mostly household-based.

The report found that entrepreneurs often set up micro and small businesses “as a matter of necessity for want of other options.” 

In addition, many MSMEs are not registered and have no legal personality as business entities. Local entrepreneurs are not backed up by technology and research and are less likely to introduce any product or market innovation. 

MSMEs also do not expect to create more than five jobs in the next five years. Moreover, most MSME jobs are of low productivity and quality, employ low- or semi-skilled labor, and yield low income. 

“Overall, a vast majority of new businesses are subsistence in nature and have limited potentials at job creation, specially creation of quality and decent jobs,” said the report.

It further pointed out that after three years, “91 per cent of small firms remained small and only 1 per cent moved to the medium-size category.”

Among medium-size enterprises, 17 percent upscaled to large-size category while 21 percent reverted to small-size category. This pattern perpetuates the “missing middle” phenomenon, said the ILO.

The legal and institutional framework to support MSMEs is the Magna Carta for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises. It aims to promote financial inclusion for MSMEs by eliminating or reducing market, policy, and regulatory constraints to their development. Among others, it mandates banks to allocate a minimum of 8 percent of their loan portfolio to micro and small enterprises and 2 percent to medium enterprises. 

“However, compliance with the mandatory allocations has been decreasing,” said the ILO. 

The reasons for this include the high risk of loan default by MSMEs, their inability to comply with requirements, particularly for collaterals, and the stricter prudential regulations from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) to minimize borrower defaults.

In 2008, the BSP and other concerned entities set up a Credit Surety Fund (CSF) to secure business loans obtained by cooperatives operating as MSMEs that have no adequate collateral. In February 2016, the CSF was institutionalized through the Credit Surety Fund Cooperative Act.

The report urges the importance of reviewing the effectiveness of the CSF program. “Actual evaluation of the CSF program is needed to determine the extent to which it has facilitated access to credit and promoted financial inclusion, to determine its contributions to employment generation, and to consider whether its implementation justifies replication beyond cooperatives,” said the ILO. - Philexport News & Features
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