Bukidnon LGUs asked: focus on economic development, not politics

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/11 July) – The local government units in the province should focus on economic development and be sensitive in promoting the economy instead of politics, a business leader here said.

“We don’t need mudslinging in business. The more business we generate, the more we help in economic development in the province,” said Manny James Cudal II, co-chair of the Bukidnon Micro-Small and Medium Enterprise Development Council (BSMEDC).

Cudal, who also chairs the council’s regional counterpart, told MindaNews Wednesday, the provincial and local governments should be more in the “forefront” of business development in the province.

He opened the Bukidnon MSMEDC’s Enhanced SME Caravan today at the Loiza’s Pavilion to mark the national SME Week commemoration.

About 190 participants from 130 local firms attended the two-day caravan organized to gather the MSMEs and government agencies. Cudal said the caravans are held to help small business entities in better business environment, access to markets, access to finance, and productivity enhancement.

A battery of speakers were scheduled to speak on topics such as trademarks with the Intellectual Property Office, good manufacturing practices from the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), and investment opportunities in different crops such as engineered bamboo, rubber, coffee, and dairy.

Financing opportunity presentations from Bank of the Philippine Islands, PSBank, and China Banking Corporation were also slated.

Cudal said that the local government must work harder to encourage business development for economic growth to generate more jobs. “Instead of making government as a big employer, they should help the business community grow so they can create more job opportunities,” he said.

Cudal cited the need for the local government to let go of much economic enterprise even if the Local Government Code of 1991 (RA 7160) defines LGUs as corporations. “They should give it to the private sector that can better run it as an economic enterprise. Not under the mayor or the governor,” he added.

He said the problem comes in when there is “politics of patronage” and the one running the economic enterprises lose their economic acumen to political loyalty.

Cudal said they are still hoping that the provincial government of Bukidnon will honor its promise in 2006 to provide P15 million in livelihood funds for the micro, small, and medium enterprises.

He said the fund promised during a one town-one product forum was meant to be provided to small business entities so they can set up stalls in a one-stop product center “but was not realized.”

“If the fund was released as promised, it could have grown much already by now,” Cudal added.

He noted that the project was not pursued because legal hindrances affected the proposed site of the center.

Cudal said they are still hoping the local government will pour in more support to the local MSME sector.

Business, he said, helps in economic development and plays an equally important role. The DOST, one of the sponsors behind the caravan, cited that the MSME sector owns about 53 percent of employment in the country.

He said aside from providing livelihood opportunities, the MSME sector is also an employment driver.

“If you have livelihood and employment, you have the drivers for progress,” said Ritchie Mae Guno, DOST Bukidnon science research specialist.

Cudal said providing venue for SMEs to touch base with the government agencies somehow addresses some of their problems.

He added that Bukidnon rates “good” in terms of business registration or making it easier for investors to register their business. (Walter I. Balane / MindaNews)