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Small and medium firms to get bulk of export promotion fund

By JESSICA ANNE D. HERMOSA, Reporter
Tuesday, June 23, 2009 | MANILA, PHILIPPINES
Today's Headlines
 
EXPORT INDUSTRY leaders have decided to allocate 70% of a P1-billion support fund promised by the government to projects for small and medium enterprises.

The remaining 30% will go to more established exporters, particularly in the business process outsourcing (BPO), electronics, tourism, and construction sectors, the Philippine Exporters Confederation, Inc. (Philexport) said in a statement.

The move, Philexport President Sergio R. Ortiz-Luis, Jr. said in a phone interview, will allow the most vulnerable to cope with the global downturn.

Already, export sales in the first four months are down 36.41% to $10.727 billion from yearago levels.

"It was decided at the last export meeting on Thursday. It was voted on by the Export Development Council sector representatives," Mr. Ortiz-Luis said, referring to the private-public sector group of which is he is the vice-chairman.

The P1-billion fund has been tagged by Trade Secretary Peter B. Favila as a facility that will go to export promotion and industry capacity building. It was decided that the private sector take the lead in allocating the fund.

Mr. Ortiz-Luis reiterated that a first tranche worth P200 million would be released "very soon".

"We're expecting it any day now," he said.

This will likely fund "the MANILA F.A.M.E. International trade show, overseas trade fairs and a special promotions project submitted by a group composed of the electronics, information technology and BPO firms," the Philexport statement read.

Asked to comment on the allocation, an electronics industry official said they were amenable to getting just 30% of the P1 billion.

"We would have needed more to support other projects, but it is better than nothing," Semiconductor and Electronics Industries in the Philippines, Inc. Chairman Arthur J. Young Jr. said in another phone interview yesterday.

"We are grateful for this promotion fund. We hope the other 70% is spent well."

The group's proposal with the Business Processing Association of the Philippines to roll out an international advertising campaign focused on Filipino workers' skills will cost P230 million, and thus can be accommodated by the 30% allocation.

Other guidelines firmed up during the meeting include a requirement that proponents put up at least 20% of the project cost to qualify for funding.

An earlier proposal to increase the project evaluation and monitoring committees to three was also okayed. Each committee will have six members: three each from the export sector and the government.

Mr. Ortiz-Luis said this would speed up the decision-making process, especially as there are a lot of proposals.

Projects that can qualify for the fund include common service facilities, seminars or materials to improve product design, business matching trips, trade fair fees, and marketing projects.

P1.7 billion worth of proposals have been submitted.



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