Lack of transpo clipped business capacities: MORE HELP FOR SMALL BUSINESSES READIED

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    EDSA Interim bus lane. (Photo from PNA)
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    By Angela Celis and Irma Isip

    The lack of public transport has hindered some sectors that have opened up from operating at their maximum allowed capacity, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said.

    Thus, it is hoping to come up with specific measures to allow more public transportation in areas still under general community quarantine (GCQ).

    “Under a GCQ, technically between 70 and 75 percent of the economy should have been open. Our problem though is that we have not yet opened up fully the public transport system,” Rosemarie Edillon, NEDA undersecretary, said in a virtual briefing yesterday.

    “This has actually adversely constrained our ability to really open up those opened up sectors, because of the lack of mobility,” she added.

    Public transportation in Metro Manila has yet to return to full capacity, with some reports showing commuters struggling to reach their workplace.

    “Hopefully, we can already come up with concrete measures on how to allow more of the transport sector to be able to operate,” Edillon said.

    However, Edillon reiterated that the government’s priority is still lives over the economy.

    “So it’s still about saving lives, but at the same time, we are aware that continually closing or having a very protracted lockdown of the economy can… bring about other health problems, not related to COVID-19,” Edillon said.

    “And this is also what we want to address, and we think that we can actually achieve that balance, if we all really work together. If we all are well informed about this, and this is actually where the information from the survey will be particularly helpful because we want to ask people what they know,” she added.

    Edillon was referring to a survey launched yesterday focusing on the impact of the coronavirus pandemic to households.

    The survey can be accessed via https://phcovidwb.org/Indiv until 5 p.m. on August 6.

    “We need to know what individuals and businesses are being informed about what to do, what is happening, and what to look forward to. We need to know if individuals and businesses are receiving the assistance as intended by government and even coming from LGUs (local government units) and other sectors,” Edillon said.

    “We need to know how they are coping in this situation and how government and other stakeholders can further help. We need to know how they are engaging with business and other stakeholders in contributing to the fight against this pandemic and how they can best help,” she added.

    According to Edillon, the survey results are needed for policy making and for program design. “And ultimately, we need to reduce uncertainty during this very volatile time,” she said.

    More funds for MSEs

    The SB Corp. is poised to get an additional P1 billion from the Land Bank of the Philippines and the Development Bank of the Philippines to augment its  COVID-19 Assistance to Restart Enterprises (CARES)   loan program, according to Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez.

    Lopez said details including the terms of  the  additional fund is being finalized by SB Corp. with the state banks.

    SB Corp. will need another P5 billion for CARES after its initial fund of P1 billion received P3 billion worth of applications.

    Lopez said funds from P3-billion Pondo sa Pagbabago at Pagasenso will be diverted to CARES.

    The DTI has also requested Congress to augment the funds through the Bayanihan 2 Act.

    CARES has received over P3 billion worth of applications, three times more than its fund size of P1 billion. It received 22,000 applications and approved more than 5,000 with loan amount of P350million.

    Guide to recovery

    Meanwhile, the Board of Investments (BOI) has launched a  dedicated website with information aimed at helping businesses and investors through the pandemic.

    The portal serves as a guide on how businesses can keep their goods and workers flowing through quarantined zones and how they can avail of  special investment incentives, such as tax discounts and duty-free importation of capital equipment that will help them deal with the pandemic.

    The website provides information on investment opportunities, as well as links and contact information to various government agencies that can provide financial support on business loans and rents.

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