MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has so much hope in micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in the Philippines that he vowed on Sunday, November 12, to pour billions of pesos into funding for them.
"Next year, I would like to make some late changes in the GAA (General Appropriations Act), the annual budget. I would like to pour more money [into] this medium, small, and micro enterprise," he said to loud applause during the launch of an Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) business mentorship program.
"Maybe P50 billion each is okay?" he asked the audience, many of whom responded with laughter. (READ: Over 140 business leaders to mentor ASEAN's micro, small entrepreneurs)
Claiming he was being serious, Duterte said: "Really, it's true. I will review the budget with Secretary Diokno and maybe if I can add more, I'll ask Congress."
The Philippine president said he has no qualms about pouring so much money into MSMEs because his economic advisers have convinced him of the importance of these types of businesses to the economy.
Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez and Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion always say that some 95% of the country's business establishments are MSMEs.
"We realized in the regional meetings that the small guy down there contributes a lot to what is really happening before our rise and it's improving the economy," said Duterte.
He's confident he can come up with the funding since the government was able to collect "billions" in taxes that were not paid by big corporations in previous administrations.
"We collected taxes. Billions of taxes [which] were unpaid for many years...So it's a good year," said Duterte.
Last month, tobacco giant Mighty Corporation paid the government a P30-billion settlement, aside from P10 billion in taxes and penalties, for its tax evasion case to be dropped.
Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.