Save small businesses, gov’t urged

A House leader called on the government to also expedite looking for funds to help the middle class particularly those in the micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs).

Minority Leader and Manila Rep. Bienvenido Abante said this sector was also adversely affected by the coronavirus disease or COVID-19 outbreak.

Abante pointed out that the government would have to find ways to extend financial assistance not just to underprivileged families, but to small businesses to prevent massive layoffs.

"Aside from the social amelioration program being given to the poorest of the poor, the middle class should be provided for also. I think the government should talk about a bailout system for MSMEs because they will be affected," Abante, a member of the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act joint congressional oversight committee, said.

"Some of them may close shop by April 30. A lot of employees in these MSMEs don't have work anymore. How can these small enterprises continue to exist?"

Abante said that while the government has implemented measures to help MSMEs temporarily, such as suspending rents and loan repayments, these may not be enough to help small companies that have had zero profits during the enhanced community quarantine.

"Many MSMEs will deal with the slide in profits by cutting down overhead; this means letting go of employees. So, we may have a scenario wherein local businesses let go of people. We have to prevent this," he added.

The lawmaker explained that one way government could assist MSMEs is by giving tax credits to banks––a one peso tax credit for every 100 pesos assistance given to MSMEs.

"If local banks will be given incentives, it will be a win-win for MSMEs, banks, and the economy," he stressed.

Abante urged the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas and the Department of Finance to work together on a bailout package along these lines.

"The BSP can lower interest rates for banks so these banks can lend money at lower interest rates as well, and the low interest rates on loans will incentivize more MSMEs to borrow.

“The DOF, on the other hand, should work on the tax breaks and other incentives for MSMEs," Abante said.