Helping SMEs restart

OUR economy has to restart amid the threat of the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic. To do that, the government has to help battered enterprises including small businesses to get up on their feet.

Good to know that the COVID-19 Assistance to Restart Enteprises (CARES) program responded. A total of P22 million was recently released by the program  286 micro and small enterprises (MSEs).

Of the total CARES loan beneficiaries, 71 are from Calabarzon Region, 52 from Metro Manila, 46 from Cordillera Administrative Region, 25 from Bicol Region, 22 from Central Visayas, 26 from Eastern Visayas, 18 from Mimaropa Region, 12 from Cagayan Valley Region, seven from Western Visayas, six from Ilocos Region, and one from Caraga Region.

The Small Business (SB) Corp., the financing arm of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), started releasing the CARES loan on July 3. SB Corp. said to date it has approved 2,419 applications with aggregate loan amounting to P78.2 million.

The DTI has an initial budget of P1 billion to roll out the program.

However, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez earlier said the total CARES loan applications have reached over P2 billion.

For extra funds needed, Lopez said they will use our other P3 (Pondo sa Pagbabago at Pag-Asenso) portfolio fund which is about P3.5 billion.

He said SB Corp. can also tap state-owned banks Land Bank of the Philippines and Development Bank of the Philippines to further fund the CARES program.

As part of the government’s goal to save businesses and jobs amid the pandemic, the CARES program was launched to help MSEs recover from their losses during the lockdown period. It  provides zero-interest loans of up to P500,000.

Meanwhile, the SB Corp. also tied up with the country’s largest business organization, the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), for the CARES program.

SB Corp. and PCCI inked  a memorandum of agreement that will provide PCCI members easy access to the loan program for MSEs.

“This is a landmark agreement for PCCI as we assist our members in their recovery efforts. We see a bright future in our relations with SB Corp. whose primary mandate is to financially assist the very small enterprises who need the support most,” PCCI President Benedicto Yujuico said.

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