P5B add’l fund for MSEs set; more businesses to reopen

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    Despite rising cases of new coronavirus disease 2019, more previously prohibited businesses will soon be allowed to reopen.

    Secretary Ramon Lopez yesterday said the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) bared the SB Corp. will need another P5 billion for its COVID-19 Assistance to Restart Enterprises (CARES) loan program to micro and small enterprises (MSEs)

    These are just few of the initial to be undertaken by the DTI which was tasked by President Duterte in his state of the nation address yesterday to focus on to help businesses affected by the pandemic, especially MS and medium enterprises, by providing them with government assistance and services, capitalization, and business operations support.

    Lopez said DTI will recommend to the Interagency Task Force for the Management of Infectious Diseases to allow the opening of tutoring, testing, review centers as well as internet cafes for education in areas under general community quarantine.

    Lopez also said the DTI has also recommended the opening of establishments offering aesthetic services, personal grooming and pet grooming, leisure activities like drive-in cinemas, gyms. titness centers and sports facilities .

    According to Lopez, a technical working group in consultation with other government agencies like the Departments of Health and of Interior and Local Government has recommended the reopening of these establishments with much improved protocols, keeping in mind these establishments will be closed down if they violate those measures.

    “This is the only way to bring back jobs. We have to learn to live with the virus and control it,” Lopez said.

    These sectors will essentially move from Category 4 to Category so they can reopen under GCQ at 30 percent of capacity

    Meanwhile, Lopez said SB Corp. will resume accepting application for CARES starting this week as the agency works to divert funds from the P3-billion Pondo sa Pagbabago at Pagasenso.

    He said SB Corp. is also making arrangements with the Development Bank of the Philippines for additional funds.

    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.

    Lopez said DTI, with the Department of Agriculture and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority , will also create entrepreneurship, special training, and agri-business projects for our displaced OFWs to rebuild their livelihoods.

    DTI also recently launched “Helping the Economy Recover thru OFW Enterprise Start-ups” (HEROES) program, a P100-million loan fund for repatriated OFWs.

    DTI will also push the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas and local banks to provide regulatory relief for MSMEs by allowing loan payment extensions without extra fees and charges.

    “We will push commercial establishments to give longer grace periods on their rents and allow deferment of payments for MSMEs and also lower rental fees moving forward so that these businesses can recover,” he said.

    The DTI is promoting “Buy Local, Go Lokal,” to help severely affected MSMEs recover from the pandemic.

    As it helps MSMEs go digital, DTI will enforce online and consumer data protection and privacy laws to strengthen the public’s trust in e-commerce and will promote greater e- governance and ensure that physical queuing is a thing of the past. (I. Isip)