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The Senate approves the institutionalization of shared service facilities.

After the Senate passed Senate Bill No. (SBN) 2021 on Monday with 22 yes votes, 0 no votes, and 0 abstentions, micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) will now be able to utilize more of the machinery, equipment, and tools of the Shared Service Facilities (SSFs) of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to improve their production, processes, and overall competitiveness.

The bill’s author and sponsor, Senator Sonny Angara, praised his colleagues for swiftly passing the legislation, noting that the SSF Project will significantly aid in expanding and developing MSMEs.

When enacted into law, SBN 2021, according to Angara, will ensure that the SSF project, which has benefited thousands of MSMEs nationwide since its beginning in 2013, receives annual funding under the General Appropriations Act.

“There were years when the SSF project did not receive funding, and this is what this bill would fix. “SSFs help a lot in small businesses that can’t afford to buy equipment like machines to expand their operations, so we just have to ensure its implementation is ongoing,” Angara said.

For the benefit of the MSME beneficiaries, the SSFs are maintained by “cooperators,” typically cooperatives, people’s groups, industrial associations, local government entities, and state universities and colleges.

These could range from less sophisticated devices like sewing machines to more complex ones like 3D printers, which are kept in SSF fabrication laboratories (Fab Labs) and are often available to MSMEs for a minimal cost. According to Angara, the MSMEs can increase manufacturing scale, enhance packaging, and incorporate innovations into their products thanks to these SSFs.

The measure calls for establishing SSF Fab Labs in at least one key area of each province. Provinces without Fab Labs will be given priority.

To meet the enormous demand while the importation of these materials was still ongoing, the Fab Labs were used to manufacture face shields, face masks, medical gowns, spray boxes, and ethyl alcohol at the height of the Covid-19 outbreak.

According to data from the DTI, 3,484 SSFs and 43 SSF Fab Labs have been constructed nationwide to date.

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