Tourism loan takeup slow; ECQ prolongs recovery

    Empty airport. Limited mobility and strict border controls due to COVID-19 have crippled the airline industry. (Reuters photo)

    Loan takeup by tourism enterprises in the Bayanihan 2-funded P10-billion COVID-19 Assistance to Restart Enterprises (CARES) program has been slow as establishments remain closed and have very slim chance to reopen even under relaxed lockdown.

    Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez told reporters in a text message only 10 percent of the funds so far received and approved by SB Corp., which administers CARES the fund, are from tourism companies.

    Lopez said SB Corp. has approved P3.38 billion loans for 25,920 applicants under CARES to date. Of those, P2.78 billion has been released to 23,141 borrowers.

    “We continue to invite borrowers under… (CARES) which covers the tourism sector but the takeout of loans is slow. Because of their limited operation and if they borrow now (tourism enterprises might be afraid) they might not be able to pay the loans. They’d rather close their business and wait until they can open,” Lopez said in an interview with Agenda on One News yesterday.

    He later told reporters for the entire CARES, loan takeup has improved from about 200 applications a week at the start of the program in May 2020 to 1,000 a week to date.

    “But we were expecting more applications than these numbers,” said Lopez, adding the SB Corp. has increased its processing capacity to about 4,000 applications per week.

    “We should continue with this microlending program because there are still many takers, still in need of working capital loans to save their operations and jobs,” Lopez said in a text message.

    With limited mobility and some borders still closed, the tourism industry, Lopez said tourism is the most badly hit sector during the pandemic.

    Lopez added the sector’s gradual recovery has been interrupted by the enhanced community quarantine.

    Lopez hinted that even as the NCR Plus moves to ease restrictions in the near future, high-risk industries and activities such as indoor food retail, gyms, spas among others where mass congregation, close contact and poor ventilation are prevalent will remain closed.

    The no- interest, no -collateral lending program grants anywhere from P10,000 P150,000 worth of loan to micro, small and medium enterprises depending on asset size.
    Loans are charged a service fee depending on the term. – Irma Isip