The International Labour Organization and the government of Japan launched on Thursday a project to support micro, small and medium enterprises affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in the Philippines.
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 for businesses to re-open and operate safely.
“Enterprises and workers in hard-hit sectors are struggling. Some are barely surviving while others have stopped operations,” said Director Khalid Hassan of the ILO Country Office for the Philippines in a statement to the media.
He said “urgent measures” are critical to support people 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 Hassan.
The one-year project with US$2.2 million funding from Japan, will help improve the safety and health of workers in MSMEs, said the ILO media statement.
It will cover provinces and non-metropolitan regions in the country where pandemic risks remain high and support limited. It will also contribute to preventing and mitigating the impact of COVID-19, and engage national MSMEs as well as the informal sector.
“Micro, small and medium enterprises are crucial to economic recovery,” said said Japanese Ambassador to the Philippines Kazuhiko Koshikawa.
“Occupational safety and health should be top priority to sustain jobs and businesses in the new normal environment,” he added.
The Philippines’ 1.4 million registered MSMEs represent over 99 percent of business establishments in the country. These enterprises employ about seven out of every ten workers and contribute to 40 percent of the Gross Domestic Product.
ILO noted that MSMEs and their workers have suffered a lot from the prolonged impact of the pandemic.
“Additionally, many people had to turn to informal businesses and employment to cope with the prolonged impact of the pandemic,” it added.
The ILO-Japan project will support efforts of the Philippine government, workers and employers under current programs of COVID-19 response.
It aims to supplement key policies and program through safer and more digitalized operations of MSMEs in provinces.