MANILA — Partido Lakas ng Masa presidential aspirant Leody De Guzman on Thursday bared a P125 billion stimulus plan to help small businesses recover following the disruptions of the COVID-19 pandemic.
De Guzman also said he wants to use part of the country's gross international reserves (GIR) to fund the country's "industrialization" instead of using it to stabilize foreign exchange rates.
In a statement, De Guzman said his “wealth tax-funded” recovery plan will include a public jobs generation program that will also provide a fixed wage subsidy for 1 million employees of MSMEs.
“Government support for small business was lacking and not distributed efficiently at the height of the recession,” De Guzman posted on his official Facebook Page.
He said millions of workers lost their jobs or received lower wages and benefits because of the government’s negligence of the MSME sector.
The labor leader said the P125 billion budget is estimated based on the data of the Department of Trade and Industry.
De Guzman said his policy team estimates that 4.67 percent of small firms are still closed, meaning around P125 billion of MSME capitalization has yet to be recovered.
The labor leader said it is vital to protect MSMEs employees that make up around 63 percent of the labor force based on DTI’s 2020 data.
“We need to protect MSMEs because millions of workers are relying on them. They are not like big monopolies that have a larger capitalization and have faster credit access to banks and financial institutions. Hence, the lives of livelihood of those employed in big businesses were not as threatened,” De Guzman said.
He also said he plans to set up a “People’s Sovereign Wealth Fund” to finance local industrialization by aggressively investing in MSMEs.
The fund will be initially financed with $50 billion from the country's gross international reserves held by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, which reached $107.9 billion as of October this year, he added.
“Let us invest in 'working class enterprises', rather than use our dollar reserves to protect the foreign exchange rates and the interests of big importers.”
Central banks use their international reserves to stabilize the value of their currencies versus other currencies.
The BSP has said that the country's latest GIR figure is equivalent to 10.8 months' worth of imports of goods and payments of services and primary income, and 7.8 times the country's short-term external debt.
De Guzman meanwhile said MSMEs should not worry about his proposed P750 national minimum wage and the abolition of all forms of contractualization.
He said MSMEs will benefit from higher wages and job security because this will give Filipinos more purchasing power, which will help local businesses.
“The demand for their goods and services will correspondingly increase.”
To counter the tendency of prices to increase with higher demand, De Guzman said the government would intervene, regulate and control power rates and fuel prices.
De Guzman joined the 2022 presidential race, along with more than 90 others.
The other presidential aspirants include Vice President Leni Robredo, Sen. Panfilo "Ping" Lacson, Sen. Manny Pacquiao, Sen. Bong Go, Manila Mayor Isko Moreno Domagoso, and former Sen. Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos.
The Commission on Elections will trim the list in the coming weeks to remove those found to be nuisance candidates.
The official campaign period for May 9, 2022, elections will begin only on Feb. 8, 2022.