Sen. Bam to BIR: Ensure zero harassment of small businesses in intensified inspections

While he welcomes the Bureau of Internal Revenue’s move to intensify inspection of businesses, Sen. Bam Aquino said the agency must ensure that this action will not be a tool for harassment and corruption.

“We laud the BIR’s effort to go after tax evaders, but the agency should also guarantee that they will target large businesses and not harass our micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs). Walang kalaban-laban ang mga maliliit na negosyo kung sila ay gipitin,” said Sen. Bam.

“Lalo na ngayong tumataas ang presyo ng bilihin, inaasahan ng mga pamilya ang kanilang maliit na negosyo, tulad ng sari-sari store at carenderia. Tiyakin dapat ng BIR na hindi papahirapan ng mga inspectors ang mga kababayan nating nasa laylayan,” added Sen. Bam.

Earlier, Sen. Bam pushed for the exemption of micro enterprises earning less than P250,000 annually from paying the required percentage taxes, on top of their income tax exemption, under the Tax Reform Acceleration and Inclusion Act (TRAIN) Act.

“Malaki ang naitutulong ng mga maliliit na negosyo at sideline sa mga mahihirap nating pamilya at komunidad. Dapat lang na suportahan sila ng gobyerno,” said Sen. Bam.

Sen. Bam is a former social entrepreneur and long-time advocate for MSME development.

His first law, Republic Act 10644 or the Go Negosyo Act, has established more than 800 Negosyo Centers around the Philippines to help Filipinos put up and manage successful businesses.

Sen. Bam also filed Senate Bill No. 169 or the Small Business Tax Reform Act, which seeks to provide small businesses with a lower income tax rate, VAT exemption and simplified filing of taxes.

Under the measure, all small businesses shall be exempt from payment of income tax for the first three years of its operation from date of establishment and will be subjected to lower income tax rates thereafter.

“This bill also proposes the lowering of the income tax rate for MSEs and an exemption from VAT, among other methods to help our small businesses grow,” said Sen. Bam.

Easier Credit Access to Fuel Growth of MSMEs – Sen. Bam

Despite the key role they play in strengthening the economy, lack of access to financing remains as the biggest roadblock for the growth of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in the country.

“The existing requirements for credit do not consider the nature and stature of these micro and small businesses,” said Senator Bam Aquino, chairman of the Committee on Trade Commerce and Entrepreneurship.

The senator pointed out that current prerequisites for financing are marginalizing the MSME sector, which accounts for 99.6% of all enterprise in the country and employs about 62% of the workforce in the country.

To address this, Aquino has filed Senate Bill No. 2218 expanding and strengthening the current Credit Surety Fund (CSF) program of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) to enable it to extend financial help to more micro and small enterprises all over the country.

“The CSF is seen as an effective program to address the financing gap that is affecting many entrepreneurs in the country,” Aquino said, referring to the BSP’s credit enhancement scheme that allows MSMEs, which are members of cooperatives to borrow from banks without collateral.

He emphasized that CSF must be supported by passing laws that will augment and enable it to help more small businesses who lack access to capital and other assistance.

“With our bill, we will institutionalize CSF and give it more funding to enable it to provide help to more MSMEs,” Aquino added.

The BSP recently launched three CSF programs in Cagayan de Oro, Aklan, and Tarlac, bringing the total number of credit surety funds established nationwide to 29 from 26 in the previous year.

In addition, the bill is aimed at aimed at building the capability of MSMEs, cooperatives and non-government organizations in the areas of credit evaluation, loan and risk management, and good governance.

Also, the bill seeks to enhance the MSMEs’ credit worthiness and broaden access to credit facilities, and sustain the continuous flow of credit in the countryside.

“This will generate more employment and alleviate poverty through increased investments and economic activities,” added Aquino, stressing that the challenge is to grow the micro businesses into small enterprises and the small enterprises to medium enterprises.

“If it this is done, growth would not only be for the few rich, rather, it would be for everyone, even to the poorest Filipino,” Aquino said.



Stakeholders Laud Passage of Senator Bam’s Go Negosyo Bill

Stakeholders have lauded the Senate’s approval of the Go Negosyo Act on third reading, saying it will help create more employment and income opportunities for all Filipinos.

“The entrepreneur community fully supports the Go Negosyo Bill as this will provide sustained assistance and mentorship support to MSMEs in all the provinces,” said entrepreneur Joey Concepcion, referring to the measure authored by Sen. Bam Aquino and approved by the Senate on the eve of EDSA 28.

“This (measure) will also facilitate the ease of starting and growing a business and spur regional development to create progress and prosperity in the region,” added Concepcion, who is also known for his all-out support for micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs).

Rody Bioco, president of Bukidnon Kaamulan Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc., echoed Concepcion’s view, calling the passage of the Go Negosyo Act as a “welcome development” and a “measure whose time has come”.

“Like government, we really hope to attract more people to open up businesses in our communities, but the hassles of putting up and registering a business, filing documents, [and so on] have become too burdensome,” Bioco said.

“We look forward to the day when ease of doing business will become a reality, so that we can attract more local and foreign investors to our area,” he added.

 Aquino, chairman of the Senate Committee on Trade, Commerce, and Entrepreneurship, emphasized during the EDSA 28 celebration that “economic empowerment should go side by side with political freedom.”

“We should come together again to level the playing field and provide jobs for millions of Filipinos. In this sense, tuloy pa rin ang laban,” the senator stressed.

Aquino said the Go Negosyo Act can help fulfill both as the measure is envisioned to boost job creation and cut unemployment.

“With the Go Negosyo Act, we can boost job creation in many parts of the country, by ensuring the success and growth of MSMEs,” said Aquino.

 According to figures cited by Aquino, at least 66 percent of jobs in the labor force are generated by the MSME sector, which in turn comprises 99 percent of all enterprises in the Philippines.

The bill calls for the creation of Negosyo Centers, under the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), in each city and municipality around the country.

These Negosyo centers are meant to make it easier for entrepreneurs to register and start up their businesses, as well as gain access to sources of financing.

The Negosyo Centers will also provide courses and development programs, training, give advice on business conceptualization and feasibility, financing, management, capability building, human resources, marketing and other support services.

“This way, we are helping micro enterprises ‘graduate’ into small enterprises, and small enterprises graduate to medium, and so on. For many Filipinos, MSMEs can be the vehicle on the road to prosperity, but government needs to do its share in providing much-needed support,” said Sen. Aquino.

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