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Freeman Cebu Business

Philexport wants negosyo centers deputized

Ehda M. Dagooc - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines —  The country’s umbrella organization of exporters, Philippine Exporters Confederation, Inc. (PHILEXPORT) has asked the government to deputize Negosyo Centers around the country to process applications of loans from small and medium businesses.

In a position paper, signed by Philexport president Sergio R. Ortiz-Luis Jr., it emphasized the urgency of approving, and releasing loans under the P20 billion loan program offered by SB Corporation.

The position paper, dated May 5 and sent to Congress, recommended that loan program for MSMEs under the Philippine Economic Stimulus Act of 2020” (PESA) should deputize Negosyo Centers nationwide to accept, review and ensure that applications for loans comply with requirements, as well as empower the centers to provide the status of these applications. This is to facilitate the processing of applications.

“This function may also be delegated to industry associations also as a form of vetting. Likewise, anticipating the huge number of applications, we recommend that loan proceeds be distributed via bank transfers to lessen people movement and facilitate the release,” said Ortiz-Luis Jr.

Similarly, he said, the P10-billion loan program for agri-fishery enterprises could also follow the same bank transfer scheme to facilitate fund release.

Philexport issued a strong call for the draft bill “to be passed in a month’s time especially for the benefit of our MSMEs and their stakeholders.”

Ortiz-Luis Jr. noted that the far- reaching ill impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic extended to MSMEs in the countryside, which are in the supply chains of enterprises and corporations in Luzon.               

The group strongly calls for the urgent passage of the PESA to provide immediate help to exporters and micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), while also urging that the bill cover all “critically-impacted businesses” nationwide, not just those in Luzon.

“In this context, we strongly recommend that this Act cover ALL Critically-Impacted Businesses in the country,” stressed Ortiz-Luis Jr.

MSMEs account for some 60 percent of the country’s employment and 30 percent of GDP.

PESA is a consolidated economic stimulus bill being drafted in the House of Representatives prescribing an economic stimulus package for critical sectors to help the Philippine economy recover from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Critically-impacted businesses refer to community quarantine (CQ) non-essential business entities in industries directly impacted by the disruption in travel and the transport of goods and services such as tourism, air transportation and trade, or significantly displaced as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.

The position paper also suggested that business entities availing of grants and loans or loan guarantees through other provisions of the Act may not be disqualified from pursuing any other form of economic relief measures so as to prevent business closure.

The paper was addressed to Rep. Joey S. Salceda, Rep. Sharon Garin, and Rep. Stella Luz Quimbo, all co-chairs of the Economic Stimulus Response Package Cluster of the Lower House.

To promote retention of workers, the bill also provides for Department of Labor and Employment wage subsidies to critically impacted businesses, amounting to at least 25 percent but not more than 75 percent of actual payroll costs for a period equivalent to two months.

On this, Philexport suggests that the period equivalent to two months refer to the period when the CQ was implemented and another month after it was lifted.

Moreover, on the provision on wage subsidies, Philexport recommended only the minimum of requirements, like a Certificate of Employment and Compensation from the employer with just the latest payroll slip. “Proceeds may be coursed through the employers who already have the payroll system to facilitate the disbursement.”

Philexport asked further that this budget should “be at least doubled, considering the existing issues of the agriculture industry in terms of productivity, technology and climate change.”

Finally, the export group proposes an additional provision to fast-track the full computerization of all government agencies’ functions especially those on trade facilitation, service continuity and ease of doing business.

PHILEXPORT
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