THE national government has overlooked womenled micro, small and medium enterprise­s (MSMES) and the manufactur­ing sector in its Covid-19 efforts, according to a report released by the United Nations (UN).

e study, titled Resilient Businesses and the Pandemic, was conducted by the Internatio­nal Labour Organizati­on (ILO), the United Nations Industrial Developmen­t Organizati­on (Unido) and the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowermen­t of Women.

Based on the report, support for women entreprene­urs and those in the informal sector as well as the food processing/manufactur­ing sector was overlooked in the Bayanihan 1 and 2 package.

“Food processing/manufactur­ing sector, while considered part of the essential economic activities permitted to operate, had been overlooked in the Bayanihan Act series. In contrast, logistics, transporta­tion, education and tourism sectors were prioritize­d and funded,” the report stated.

“As expressed in the stakeholde­r validation, the general concern was that there was not enough support for women entreprene­urs and workers and those in the informal economy,” the report also stated.

e report said MSMES usually relied on their “resourcefu­lness and ingenuity” to survive. ey also employed this during the pandemic.

Some of these efforts entailed using e-commerce to sell their products and reach more consumers as well as adopting cash management strategies like cutting costs and negotiatin­g for supplier credit in order to cope.

However, assistance from the national government was lacking, as observed in the lack of promotion programs; discordant programs that can become counterpro­ductive measures; and the lack of focused, structured/systematic approach that could have responded to the current needs of MSMES.

e report said support for

women would have also gone a long way since women often juggle multiple roles: apart from being business owners, they also manage households and become the primary caregivers for their families. Workers in the informal sector also experience­d much economic uncertaint­y due to the pandemic, the UN said, noting this was a concern since they comprised 38 percent of the total working population.

“Informal workers are characteri­zed by not being duly registered or formally recognized, thus they are automatica­lly excluded from key support programs of the government,” the report stated.

Neda explains

MEANWHILE, the National Economic and Developmen­t Authority (Neda) Undersecre­tary for Policy and Planning Rosemarie G. Edillon said in a brie ng some sectors were excluded in the Bayanihan packages because these were already covered by existing government programs.

Edillon said in terms of the government support, agencies like the Department of Agricultur­e (DA) and Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) already “went all out in support” of these sectors. She said the support extended to these sectors include providing logistics transport. Edillon cited as example the one extended by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR).

The Neda o cial said BFAR lent their delivery trucks to address the logistics problem of MSMES with mobility issues.

Edillon said the assistance to food MSMES also included the Expanded SURE Aid and Recovery Project or SURE Covid-19 nancing program. These programs are already part of the budgets of these agencies.

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