$2.2 M ILO, Japan program aims to support pandemic-hit MSMEs in PH

enablePagination: false
maxItemsPerPage: 10
maxPaginationLinks: 10

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 16) — The International Labor Organization (ILO) and the Government of Japan launched an initiative that will provide assistance to small companies in the Philippines that were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a statement, the ILO said the new project called “Bringing back jobs safely under the COVID-19 crisis in the Philippines: Rebooting small and informal businesses safely and digitally” aims to make workplace of micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSME) safer and more productive so that they can reopen and operate safely without having to implement lockdowns.

It will be a one-year project, with funding worth $2.2 million (around ₱110.37 million) from the Japanese government, it added.

Khalid Hassan, director of the ILO Country Office for the Philippines, said given the challenges these businesses are facing, “urgent measures are critical to support them in dealing with the impact of COVID-19, and to build back better and safer.”

“We need to also help people access safe and decent jobs in their own town,” he added.

The program will cover provinces and non-metropolitan regions in the Philippines where COVID-19 risks are high, yet support is limited.

It aims to help in preventing and mitigating the impact of the health crisis and engage small business as well as the informal sector.

Japanese Ambassador to the Philippines Kazuhiko Koshikawa emphasized the important role of MSMEs in economic recovery, saying it is equally important to ensure occupational safety and health in the sector to sustain jobs and businesses in the new normal.

"This includes ensuring a safe return to work, digitalized operations, and safer and more productive workplaces,” he pointed out.

MSMEs represent 99% of businesses, employing 7 out of 10 workers in the country, ILO noted.

Moreover, these firms contribute to 40% of the Philippines’ gross domestic product, it added.

But with lockdowns implemented to control the spread of coronavirus, movement was restricted including economic activities. This led to many businesses temporarily suspending operations or worst permanently shutting down.

The program will support existing programs of the different stakeholders, including existing programs under the Philippine government’s COVID-19 response, specifically the National Employment Recovery Strategy and the Decent Work Country Program of the Philippines

“It will supplement key policies and programs through safer and more digitalized operations of MSMEs in provinces,” ILO said. “As part of the Safety + Health for All Flagship program of the ILO, the project is aligned with the ILO’s four policy areas for COVID-19 response.”

This initiative will be implemented in collaboration with the Department of Labor and Employment, the Department of Information and Communications Technology, the Department of Trade and Industry, the National Anti-Poverty Commission, and employers and workers organizations in the Philippines, it also said.