Leody De Guzman deposits his certificate of candidacy for the presidency at the port tent of the Sofitel Hotel in Pasay City on October 06, 2021. Jonathan Cellona, ​​ABS-CBN News.

MANILA – Partido Lakas ng Masa presidential contender Leody De Guzman on Thursday unveiled a 125 billion peso stimulus package to help small businesses recover from the disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic.

De Guzman also said he wanted to use part of the country’s gross international reserves (GIR) to finance the country’s “industrialization” instead of using it to stabilize exchange rates.

In a statement, De Guzman said his “wealth tax-funded” stimulus package will include a government job creation program that will also provide a fixed wage subsidy to 1 million MSME employees.

“Government support for small businesses was lacking and was not delivered effectively during the height of the recession,” De Guzman wrote on his official Facebook page.

He said millions of workers lost their jobs or received lower wages and benefits due to government neglect of the MSME sector.

The union leader said that the budget of 125 billion pesos is estimated on the basis of the data from the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.

De Guzman said his political team estimates that 4.67 percent of small businesses are still closed, meaning that around 125 billion pesos of MSME capitalization has yet to be recovered.

The union leader said it was vital to protect MSME employees who make up around 63% of the workforce based on 2020 DTI data.

“We need to protect MSMEs because millions of workers rely on them. They are not like the big monopolies which have a larger capitalization and have faster access to credit to banks and financial institutions. Therefore, the lives of people employed in large companies were not so threatened, ”said De Guzman.

He also said he planned to create a “People’s Sovereign Fund” to finance local industrialization by aggressively investing in MSMEs.

The fund will initially be funded by $ 50 billion from the country’s gross international reserves held by Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, which reached $ 107.9 billion in October this year, he added.

“Let’s invest in ‘working class businesses’, rather than using our dollar reserves to protect exchange rates and the interests of large importers.”

Central banks use their international reserves to stabilize the value of their currencies against other currencies.

The BSP said the latest GDI figure for the country is equivalent to 10.8 months of imports of goods and payments for services and primary income, and 7.8 times the country’s short-term external debt.

De Guzman said MSMEs should not worry about his proposed national minimum wage P750 and the abolition of all forms of contracting.

He said MSMEs will benefit from higher wages and job security, as this will give Filipinos more purchasing power, which will help local businesses.

“The demand for their goods and services will increase accordingly. ”

To counter the tendency for prices to rise with higher demand, De Guzman said the government would step in, regulate and control electricity tariffs and fuel prices.

De Guzman joined the 2022 presidential race, along with more than 90 others.

Other presidential contenders include Vice President Leni Robredo, Senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson, Senator Manny Pacquiao, Senator Bong Go, Mayor of Manila Isko Moreno Domagoso and former Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos.

The Election Commission will reduce the list in the coming weeks to remove candidates deemed harmful.

The official campaign period for May 9, 2022, elections will not start until February 8, 2022.

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