Handicraft official urges ‘policy changes’

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The Philippine Chamber of Handicraft Industries Inc. (PCHI) said that the government should do some “policy changes” if it really wants local manufacturers to grow, especially now that the country is facing stiff competition from neighboring countries, particularly China.

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Dennis Orlina, PCHI president, said that on the part of their industry, handicraft makers only target a modest 4-percent to 5-percent growth in production this year although they have reached their target mid-year.

“I think we’ve hit 10-percent [growth]by now already. Last year, [our products totaled to]$110 million, but our estimate mid-year produce for the year already reached $112 million,” he said.

With the evident slow growth, Orlina said that the government should support the industry through “policy changes,” “provision of funds and subsidies, and study potentials of each industry.”

“That’s why we need to have policy changes that we need to undertake. If only our government will realize that we should stop buying plastic especially from China . . . Sustaining growth should require a change of policies as most of government plans are short-term goals,” Orlina said, referring to Filipinos patronizing more China-made plastic products than the Filipino-made natural native and indigenous products from bamboo, abaca, rattan and the likes.

“We should use spoon and fork made from bamboo. If we start to stop buying plastic plates from china and replace with our plates, [our local products will boom]. . . The problem is that [China] have been lording the markets since the past 10 years. Almost all of the products in the market are made in China. We hope this landscape would change,” he added.

Orlina said earlier that local products are expensive because of high distribution costs and lingering corruption in the transfer of products from one place to another.

“We have the highest inter-island rates in Asia. It is cheaper to transport a product from Hong Kong to here rather than within the country,” he said.

Orlina also pointed out that the adjustment of local producers to the “green economy” results in higher prices for products.

“Green economy is not a mere dream, it is a need already . . . [Local products] are expensive at present because we’ve gotten used to getting everything cheap by destroying the environment,” he said.

“It is easy to chop off a tree and turn into uling [charcoal]for cheap [and easy profit]. But for you to grow a tree, it would take you years, but when do we start? We have to start now,” Orlina added.

Kristyn Nika M. Lazo

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