By Mario Casayuran
Congress Thursday moved a step closer to enhancing the country’s global competitiveness of micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs).
This came after the bicameral conference committees of the Senate and House of Representatives met to resolve conflicting provisions of their versions of the proposed landmark Philippine Innovation Act.
Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, chairman of the Senate economic affairs committee, issued the statement after members of these committees met to iron out the disagreeing provisions of Senate Bill No. 1355 and House Bill No. 8715.
Once their separate committee reports are ratified, the two legislative chambers will send an enrolled bill to President Duterte for approval or veto.
“In the Philippines, where 99.6 percent of businesses are considered MSMEs, the role of innovation cannot be overemphasized. Unlike large companies that have ready access to funding and resources, MSMEs are at a disadvantage because of their size and problems of access to resources and markets. Innovation will enhance the global competitiveness of these MSMEs,” Gatchalian said.
Gatchalian sponsored the Senate bill.
The Philippine Innovation Act states that the State “shall place innovation at the center of its development policies, guided by a clear and long-term set of goals that will take into consideration the key advantages of the country and the opportunities in the regional and global economic arena. As such, it shall harness innovation efforts to help the poor and the marginalized and to enable MSMEs to be a part of the domestic and global supply chain.”
The proposed law also provides for the creation of a National Innovation Council (NIC), chaired by the President, to develop the country’s innovation goals, priorities, and long-term national strategy.
“May the future National Innovation Council, using a whole-of-government approach, develop a National Innovation Agenda and Strategy Document that will deepen and accelerate inclusive innovation programs that target the poorest of the poor. May this Council faithfully administer the National Innovation Fund, with the end in view of changing the rules of the game: a Filipino with an innovative idea that will benefit the poorest of the poor will no longer have to look elsewhere for funding or support,” Gatchalian said.
He stressed that the Philippine Innovation Act “will steer the adoption of a clear and inspiring long-term view of the country’s innovation vision, improve the governance framework for innovation, and mandate key reform areas toward building a thriving and inclusive national innovation ecosystem.”
Moreover, the lawmaker said the landmark legislation was inspired by the vision to put innovation at the center of the country’s national development policies, and make innovation a major driver of economic development that will build the foundation of a more inclusive future.
“It is my hope that the Philippine Innovation Act will compel us to place innovation at the center of our development policies to enable the country to move as a coherent whole. I hope that it will be implemented to develop a thriving and growth-fueling national innovation system, cure our highly fragmented innovation governance system, and mobilize and strengthen partnerships between and among all the actors in the innovation system,” he said.
Gatchalian previously called on the government to develop a culture of innovation in order to boost the country’s economic competitiveness following the Philippines’ rise in ranking in the latest Global Competitiveness Report of the World Economic Forum.