Monday, October 25, 2010

Picking on start-ups and struggling entrepreneurs

IT was a pair of reconditioned trucks for hauling gravel that a billionaire-turned-lawmaker sunk into his lifetime savings that was to see him cross the Rubicon from hauler to real estate builder… and in the long haul, one of the nation’s most successful taipans. If such daring ventures were nipped in the bud, hundreds of thousands of jobs—and opportunities to kindle downstream and upstream start-ups-- would have been lost and the nation entire would have been poorer.

Executive Order 887-A, a midnight directive fired June 3, 2010 like a torpedo to sink, yeah, to squash and crush the Pinoy spirit of enterprise serves such purpose… another show of mindless ruthlessness by the previous maladministration.

So what if we’ve taken to hand-me-downs? Rather than blow a few hundreds more on school bags, shoes and articles of clothing for his schooling child, an astute mom opts to seek out the heaps of such used items in an ukay-ukay shop… savings can be used to buy a few more kilos of rice, three or more eggs or dried fish for sustenance. Say, tax wizards hired by the prior rule have been hounding such ukay-ukay shops with a view to heavier levies.

Even environment-friendly folks keep at it with a view to conservation of resources and a gentler carbon footprint… Re-use. Recycle. Reduce.

EO 887-A seeks to kill the import of second-hand vehicles.

Procurement of such hand-me-downs keep start-up and struggling outfits nationwide on a roll with fine-tuned, retooled, refurbished and reconditioned vehicles… these have not outlived their usefulness or intrinsic worth. These are given a new lease on life, refitted into public utility buses or delivery trucks and vans for bringing goods and staples—uh, even ballot boxes and PCOS machines-- to markets and distribution outlets.

A hand-me-down vehicle costs four to five times less than its brand-new counterpart. Start-up and struggling businesses would rather settle for such hand-me-downs—telling reason why prices of goods in our wet markets are still within reach of most breadwinners. Aside from revenues that go into government coffers, the trade in used vehicles also employs over 120,000 workers— killing the industry can mean starving some 780,000 Filipinos.

Face it, the country doesn’t have a so-called Progressive Car Manufacturing Program as was bruited about in the ancien regime… what we had was importation of semi or completely knocked down (SKD/CKD) kits for local assembly, with a few nuts and bolts plus upholstery thrown in to muster two-bit value added… not unlike importing syrup and soda concentrates overseas then thinning out such brew with water fetched off local taps and passing off the drink as a local product.

EO 887-A wants to ensure that only pricey brand-new vehicles would corner the market. Start-up and struggling outfits be damned… ah, EO 887-A is patently, unabashedly anti-poor. And logically, pro-corrupt… “walang mahirap kung walang corrupt.”

It doesn’t have to take an act of Congress to dump EO 887-A into the dustbin where it belongs.

PNoy can come to the rescue.

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