NSB: Good but LGUs remain a challenge
FULL DISCLOSURE - Fidel Abalos (The Freeman) - July 29, 2019 - 12:00am

Last week, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI-7), through Regional Director Asteria Caberte, announced that it shall unveil its first Negosyo Serbisyo sa Barangay (NSB) program in Cebu in Moalboal (a 5th class municipality) this August 1, 2019. Envisioned to establish 250 NSB Centers in the barangays of the 4th and 5th class municipalities of Central Visayas, it shall be the first of the 58 barangays identified in the Province of Cebu.

Unknown to most of us, DTI’s NSB has been conducted in several barangays around the country. Among others, it conducted information campaigns on the Go Negosyo Act, Business Name Law, financial literacy and Pondo sa Pagbabago at Pag-asenso (P3). Moreover, it continues to offer, among others, entrepreneurship seminar, bookkeeping/accounting for non-accountants, product development and related skills training.

Since the NSB platform will bring in the system of Negosyo Centers down to the barangay level, Regional Director Caberte emphasized that those who have started or will start their small businesses can easily get their pre-requisite requirements like business permit, business name, among others without having to go to the City or their respective towns.

Heeding the call of President Rodrigo Duterte that “no one shall be left behind”, she, likewise, called on the LGU executives to help them nurture a culture of entrepreneurship in their respective localities. The same call was also made by DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez in his recent visit to Cebu.

What we can assume, however, is that, this program (NSB) will be carried out together with our existing rural revitalization programs. If it is, then, poverty alleviation dreams maybe realized sooner. These rural revitalization programs, include, among others, the Barangay Micro Business Enterprises (BMBEs), Shared Service Facilities Program (SSF Program), One Town One Product (OTOP) and the most abused and graft-ridden Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).

To reemphasize, this BMBE act’s purpose is so noble. This is supposedly a better version of the ineffective “Kalakalan 20”. It was passed to hasten the country’s economic development by encouraging the establishment and growth of BMBEs. As the barangays are considered the source of entrepreneurial talents, it envisioned an integration of those in the informal sector or in the underground economy with the mainstream. By granting incentives and benefits to these BMBEs, they were supposed to sprout all over the country. Consequently, they will be able to generate employment and alleviate poverty. Unfortunately, however, this law had remained seemingly dormant because of some local government executives’ indifference.

On the other hand, just like the BMBE, the DTI, through some cooperatives, is also spearheading the Shared Service Facilities Program (SSF Program). With raw materials and labor abundant in the countryside, the SSF truly fills the gap.

In filling the gap, the SSF generates employment and creates products that can possibly penetrate the local and foreign markets. Thus, the ingredients to this program’s success are just waiting to be tapped.

Since both programs (BMBE & SSF) are under DTI’s guardianship, then complementing efforts can be easily initiated. Dangling the SSF program before a group of would-be BMBE registrants could be a good start. Simply put, SSF will be for production or manufacturing activities and BMBE shall be for incentives and, possibly, financial assistance. Potentially, with this inseparable pair of honest to goodness rural revitalization programs (entrepreneurship and productive employment), together with the NSB, the benefits will certainly trickle down to the grassroots (or barangay level) and can liberate the majority from this age-old oppression called poverty.  Indeed, these could be the best trio for success, a perfect combination.

Cautiously, however, since LGUs have participation in these programs (NSB, BMBE & SSF), we can only surmise should local politicians will be reluctant in supporting them. First, they don’t want to implement programs where they cannot affix their oversized and enhanced photos on tarpaulins for advertising mileage.

Secondly, they don’t seriously consider programs that shall truly emancipate the poor from the bondage of poverty. They are leaning largely toward programs (like dole-outs) that shall truly make the majority of our countrymen their perennial parasites. These are unequivocal parasites who are willing and blindly ready to die for them as they continue to satisfy their unquenchable thirst for power and perpetual hold of their respective turfs.

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