MSMEs near full availment of P5 billion COVID-19 loan package

Louella Desiderio - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — Loans released to micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) hit by the COVID-19 pandemic under a program of the financing arm of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) have reached P4.9 billion out of the P5 billion allocation.

In an interview with radio station dzBB, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said the approved loans under the COVID-19 Assistance to Restart Enterprises (CARES) program administered by DTI’s financing arm Small Business (SB) Corp. were given to over 30,000 MSMEs.

To continue lending to MSMEs through the CARES program, he said SB Corp. would be getting funds from allocations for other facilities.

He said Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat had agreed to lend funds from the allocation for tourism establishments under the CARES program’s travel component also administered by the SB Corp. to MSMEs.

“We will return it once we get the budget next year,” Lopez said.

The CARES program’s special window for tourism and travel-related industries has an allocation of P4 billion.

Apart from MSMEs and tourism enterprises, the CARES program also has a component for lending to repatriated or displaced overseas Filipino workers looking to start their own business.

Under the CARES program, loans are payable up to a maximum of four years, inclusive of grace period of 12 months for non-tourism MSMEs.

For tourism establishments accredited by the Department of Tourism or registered as barangay micro business enterprises, the maximum grace period is 24 months.

Borrowers have to pay a one-time service fee set at a maximum of eight percent for a four-year loan term, while lower service fees apply for those with shorter loan terms.

Lopez said the CARES program is just one of the programs being implemented by the DTI to support MSMEs.

Aside from financing, he said the DTI also provides assistance to MSMEs through services of Negosyo Centers which include business registration, business advisory as well as monitoring and evaluation of business improvement.

“Overall, over two million have been assisted by the Negosyo Centers,” he said.

At present, he said there are over 1,200 Negosyo Centers in the country.

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