This was the gist of the message delivered by Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima to local retailers at the opening of the Philippine Retailers Conference last week at the SMX Convention Center.
“Look at how you can engage Filipino suppliers. Some (of you) want to do social responsibility (programs), but these are not sustainable. Use your budget to help the country. Instead of using imported vegetables, you can help local farmers produce vegetables according to your standards,” Purisima said.
He urged retailers to organize reverse trade fairs and show SME suppliers what they require in terms of supply.
He cited Toyota’s experience of holding a reverse trade fair for prospective suppliers, which resulted in the automobile company’s success in increasing its local content.
Jolibee Food Corporation is another big retailer whose activities are worth emulating, he added. The restaurant chain had been sourcing onions from local farmers and engaging wives of farmers for tasks like peeling and chopping of produce, according to their specifications.
In turn, government is willing to provide incentives and assistance, such as credit and training, to retailers who will help small and medium enterprises by sourcing more products and services from them.
By helping the community, retailers also help themselves. “The market becomes stronger. We cannot produce everything, but those we can produce we should use,” Purisima added.