IBA, Zambales — The Zambales provincial government, in partnership with private companies and non-government organizations, has launched a mass-based livelihood program designed to create more income for residents and to revolutionize the local economy.
Gov. Hermogenes Ebdane Jr. said the Pangkabuhayang Panghabangbuhay program, or POGE Zambales, would boost household income and expand the province’s tax base by developing more local entrepreneurs. “We need revenues to be able to pursue the programs for development that we have lined up for Zambales. But we do not want to tax the residents more than what they are paying now. So, our strategy is to create more taxpayers,” Ebdane explained during the project launch here on Saturday.
“By turning each Zambaleño into an entrepreneur, we intend to collect more taxes and, hence, generate more funds to develop our community,” Ebdane added.
POGE, a name chosen by project participants in a consultation meeting last month, stands for “Program Of the people and by the people; Good governance for Excellent income”. According to Jun Tupaz, a professional on trade development and head coordinator of the POGE project, the participation of thousands of Zambales residents is critical to the success of this livelihood program, since the basic objective is to put up family businesses.
Tupaz said the program involves orienting the people and identifying the viable business activities in the province; organizing residents to introduce them to the concept of entrepreneurship; providing training for skills development, transfer of technology, preparation of business plans, consultancy and guidance during the early periods of the business; as well as providing access to capital and introducing participants to ready markets.
Tupaz said that Gov. Ebdane had gathered experts from various fields to provide technical knowhow for about 20 projects identified for the POGE program. The specialists come from established national and international companies like Purefoods, Nestle, Seagate Global, and MacKay Group. Moreover, experts from government agencies like the Department of Agriculture, as well as freelance specialists, were also tapped to provide support in terms of logistics, marketing, and other project requirements.
Meanwhile, William Lawton, chairman of Seagate Global Group, an international merchant bank focused on sustainable community development through investments and trade in China and other areas in Southeast Asia, will provide financial advice, access to capital, and related services for the POGE program.
Ebdane said that after initial study by experts, some 20 business lines have been identified as viable projects that are suited to the locality. These includes Marshall grass farming, livestock and poultry, meat and dairy processing, organic aquaculture and modern fishing methods, castor oil farming and processing, fruit and vegetable processing, coffee farming and processing, raising of golden shower and paulownia trees, apple mango juice production, as well as sewing and homestay program.
To make each family project viable, the participants will be organized into clusters to make their production and services commercially significant, Ebdane said. According to projections by the POGE team, after two years of implementation, a family enrolled in the program will be able to earn at least 25,000 pesos per month.
The POGE program, Gov. Ebdane said, is a realization of his pledge to “build our Zambales by building consensus and building community.” “This project will create greater momentum in our desire to further develop Zambales,” Ebdane said. “And what is beautiful about this scheme, is that it is the people who would make it work.”