One town, one product law ‘perfect’ for recovering MSMEs

The One Town, One Product (OTOP) Philippines Act is the true embodiment of the 'Filipino first policy' that the country needs to help micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) recover from Covid-19 pandemic, House Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez said on Sunday. He said Republic Act (RA) No. 11960 or the Act Institutionalizing the OTOP Philippines Program, signed by President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. on Aug. 25, is the perfect post-pandemic law that would go a long way in helping the MSMEs in post-pandemic era. He said it aims to develop a self-reliant and independent national economy, effectively controlled by Filipinos through policies and programs that drive inclusive local economic activity that would boost the nation's economic growth. "The State shall likewise promote the preferential use of Filipino labor, domestic materials, and locally produced goods, and adopt measures to make them competitive," the new law read. "The OTOP Philippines Program is hereby institutionalized and shall be one of the government's stimulus programs that will encourage the growth of MSMEs in the countryside through the development of indigenous raw materials, utilizing local skills and talents and featuring local traditions across the country; Provided, that simplified requirements and procedures shall be adopted for beneficiaries to easily access the components of the program," it added. The OTOP Philippines Program shall cover products and skills-based services known to an area or locality. This includes processed foods, agricultural-based products, home and fashion products, arts and crafts, and skills-based services. "The OTOP Program will redound not just to the individual localities or regions, but the entire country itself in an expedited manner,' Romualdez said in a news release on Sunday. He also said RA 11960 recognizes the indispensable rule of the private sector and private enterprises and the necessity to provide incentives to foster advancement among businesses, especially MSMEs which make up 90 percent of all local businesses, following the pandemic. The law provides a package of assistance for MSMEs with viable products in order to develop new, innovative, and more complex products, with significant improvement in the areas of quality, product development, design, packaging, standards or regulatory compliance, marketability, production capability, and brand development, among others. "It also aims to assist rural communities in growing the local economy and being more market-oriented and innovation-driven, as well as promote convergence of initiatives from local government units (LGUs), national government agencies, and the private sector in developing and promoting Philippine products, whether for export of the domestic market," Romualdez said. RA 11960 designates the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) as the main implementer of the OTOP Philippines Program. It shall create the OTOP Program Management Office to oversee the program. The DTI is also mandated to establish the OTOP Philippines Trustmark, an assurance that the products under the program represent the country's best. The regional and provincial offices of the DTI shall, in cooperation with the concerned LGUs, determine the beneficiaries of the OTOP program

Source: Philippines News Agency