By Anna Leah E. Gonzales
June 11, 2021
The Department of Trade and Industry, through the Small Business (SB) Corp., has so far approved almost P5 billion in loans under the Covid-19 Assistance to Restart Enterprises (Cares) program of the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act (Bayanihan 2).
In a statement on Thursday, DTI said the P5 billion microfinancing allotted for the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) under SB Corp., is nearing full utilization as it has already processed and approved P4.5-billion in loans for 30,408 applications as of June 9, 2021.
“In view of this, there is a need to replenish this fund if we are to lend out to more MSMEs affected by the pandemic,” said Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez.
The Cares program, which was established to help the country’s MSMEs recover from the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic, draws P1 billion in funds from the 2021 General Appropriations Act (GAA) and P4 billion from Bayanihan 2.
Lopez said he expects that Cares will use up its target fund allocation by the end of June and will be requiring replenishment as the country continues to rebuild economically from the ongoing worldwide pandemic.
The Trade chief, however, encouraged MSMEs to continue applying for the program.
“With this microfinancing program providing collateral-free and interest-free loans to businesses affected by the pandemic, our MSMEs can begin to rebuild their respective businesses and take part in the recovery that has started around the world,” Lopez said.
The DTI is also working with the Department of Tourism in promoting the P6-billion Cares for Tourism Rehabilitation and Vitalization of Enterprises and Livelihood, or Cares for Travel, program for tourism-related businesses heavily impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Lopez expressed optimism that with the arrival of added vaccine doses this month and the roll out of the vaccination for 35 million A4 priority group or economic frontliners, the country’s overall vaccination roll out will be boosted, which will increase consumer and business confidence in the business sector.
“The country’s vaccination program will prove to be a timely shot in the arm as well for the economy, as it will lead to continuous reopening with less threat of a surge, thus creating a good momentum for sustained recovery, more investments and greater employment opportunities for the Filipinos,” said Lopez.