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Gov’t to reopen loan program for MSMEs

DTI to get P3-B additional fund
/ 04:09 AM July 29, 2020

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) will resume accepting loan applications from businesses that got disrupted by the pandemic, more than a month after it closed its door on micro and small entrepreneurs due to insufficient funds.

DTI’s attached agency Small Business Corp. will reopen its P1-billion fund this week, according to Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez, who said it would be adding another P3 billion from another SB Corp. loan program.

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This would mark more than a month since SB Corp. stopped accepting new applications last June 18.

Moreover, Lopez said he was hoping to get more funds from Congress after President Duterte urged the legislature to pass the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act, which includes a small stimulus package at P140 billion.

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“In the past two weeks, we have sourced a new fund to add to [our loan fund]. So we’ll reopen [the CARES program] this week because we’ve now found an additional fund,” he said on Tuesday.

Lopez said they would get more than P3 billion from the P3 program, or the Pondo sa Pagbabago at Pag-asenso, which was launched in 2017 to give micro businesses an alternative to loan sharks.

When asked for an ideal amount, Lopez said “another P5 billion will be good enough for now.”

It remains to be seen how much would be allotted for the CARES program under the second bayanihan bill, which the Senate passed on Tuesday. However, a P5-billion additional fund is significantly smaller than what it could have received under a different stimulus bill.

The average loan size asked by applicants across the country was around P130,000, according to SB Corp.

The P1 billion it had could only do so much when out of more than a million registered enterprises, more than 90 percent are considered small and micro businesses.

Under the P1.3-trillion Arise bill, or the Accelerated Recovery and Investments Stimulus for the Economy of the Philippines, the COVID-19 loans program of SB Corp. would get P45 billion this year and P25 billion in 2021.

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The bill was already passed by the House of Representatives last June. Business groups were hoping Mr. Duterte would support the bill during the 5th Sona, but instead chose the bill that would get the government spending less.

The administration’s chief economic manager, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, does not think the Arise bill could be funded. But Rep. Stella Quimbo, one of the original proponents of the bill, had previously pointed out that the country could use its good credit rating to borrow money. INQ

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TAGS: Business, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Ramon Lopez
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