Camarines Sur Representative LRay Villafuerte has called on the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to do a far better job of implementing or scaling up its programs designed to assist micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in migrating to digitalization amid the emerging new economy touched off by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Villafuerte said digitalization will allow MSMEs to seize opportunities expected to reach P5 trillion in annual economic value, as pointed out in a report commissioned by Google Philippines.
“We need to help MSMEs make the digital switch soon enough, especially because they are among the sectors hardest hit by the pandemic, ” Villafuerte said.
“We need to help MSMEs make the digital switch soon enough, especially because they are among the sectors hardest hit by the pandemic.”
Villafuerte said a DTI survey showed that the majority or 73 percent of the country’s MSMEs have difficulty digitizing their operations.
Based on the DTI survey, MSMEs need assistance in two aspects—those already engaged in e-commerce want to improve their digital skills while those not yet engaged in e-commerce prefer to learn skills on how to get started with an online business.
“Our MSMEs will be left behind if they cannot effectively transition to the digital economy, more so now that the trend is moving towards online transactions,” Villafuerte said.
He cited a Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) statement that digital payments made up 20.1% of all transactions last year.
Digital payments saw its share in the total transaction volume rise by 10.1 percentage points from the 10% in 2018, which means one in five payments or a total of 910 million transactions last year were done online, according to the BSP.
Villafuerte, himself a former entrepreneur, has made a final push in this third and last session of the 18th Congress for a troika of initiatives to further accelerate the Philippines’ digital switch that would help the Philippines keep up with the expected strong rebound of many of its regional neighbors from the Covid-driven economic malaise.
These digitalization initiatives are outlined in Villafuerte’s House Bill (HB) Nos. 6924 (Bangko sa Baryo Act), 1248 (e-governance law) and 7189 (Outside Class Learning and Digital Education Act).
“Our MSMEs will be left behind if they cannot effectively transition to the digital economy, more so now that the trend is moving towards online transactions.”
Villafuerte, who has championed the country’s digital switch even before the pandemic struck last year, said the use of technology-driven tools will provide the country with new opportunities for growth and make it inclusive, especially for millions of Filipinos in the countryside.
The Bangko sa Baryo proposal for one aims to provide last-mile financial connectivity in unbanked communities nationwide through the use of digital tools, he said.
Villafuerte’s e-governance measure seeks to develop, promote and interlink electronic government services and processes in all government agencies and state-run corporations.
The “Outside Class Learning and Digital Education Act,” meanwhile, recognizes the need to develop the Philippines’ basic education curriculum in order to fully integrate learning beyond the confines of the classroom, such as distance learning and other alternative modes of education.