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  • Writer's pictureMelo Acuna

MSMEs to benefit from ILO-Japanese Government project

Joint ILO and Japanese Government project boosts work for SMEs

MANILA – With micro, small and medium enterprises taking the brunt of the impact from strict quarantine measures due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the International Labour Organization and the Government of Japan today launched a new project to support MSMEs.

The project, “Bringing back jobs safely under the COVID-19 crisis in the Philippines: Rebooting small and informal businesses safely and digitally,” aims to make MSME workplaces safer and more productive so business can re-open and operate safely without returning to stricter lockdown.

“Enterprises and workers in hard-hit sectors are struggling. Some are barely surviving while others have stopped operations. 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,” said Director Khalid Hassan of the ILO Country Office for the Philippines.

The year-long project with US$2.2 million funding from the Government of Japan, will improve the safety and health of workers in MSMEs. It will cover provinces and non-metropolitan regions in the country where the pandemic risks are still high and support limited. The project will contribute to preventing and mitigating the impact of COVID-19, and engage national MSMEs and the informal sector.

Japanese Ambassador to the Philippines Kazuhiko Koshikawa said MSMEs are crucial to economic recovery.

“Occupational safety and health should be top priority to sustain jobs and businesses in the new normal environment. This includes ensuring a safe return to work, digitalized operations, and safer and more productive workplaces,” Ambassador Koshikawa added.

There are 1.4 million registered MSMEs in the Philippines which is 99 per cent of the total business establishments. These enterprises employ about seven out of every ten workers and contribute to 40 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). As such, MSMEs and their workers have taken the brunt of the prolonged impact of the pandemic. Many people had to turn to informal businesses and employment to cope with the prolonged impact of the pandemic.

The project will support programs of the government, workers and employers under current undertakings of the COVID-19 response and delivering as one, specifically, the National Employment Recovery Strategy (NERS) and the Decent Work Country Programme (DWCP) of the Philippines and will supplement key policies and programmes through safer and more digitalized operations of MSMEs in provinces.

As part of the Safety + Health for All Flagship Programme of the ILO, the project is aligned with the ILO’s four policy areas for COVID-19 response. The strategic framework of NERS is also anchored on these principles and policy areas.

The project will be rolled out with the assistance of the Departments of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Information and Communication Technology, Trade and Industry, the National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC), and employers and workers organizations in the Philippines. (Melo M. Acuña)

Japanese Ambassador Kazuhiko Koshikawa (left) and Director Khalid Hassan of the ILO Country Office for the Philippines (left photo) and the participants from different sectors during the launch earlier today. (ILO Supplied Photos)

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