DEPARTMENT of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez said that the Small Business Corp. (SB Corp) is set to process an additional 15,000 loan applications before the year ends to aid the recovery of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) affected by the resulting lockdowns of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“With the improvement in our evaluation and approval system, we are now able to increase our evaluation capacity to around 15,000 in a month. We have facilitated the processing to accommodate more MSMEs affected by the pandemic. We expect to release more loans to help businesses recover, especially as we gradually reopen the economy,” said Lopez in a statement.
Since the passage of Republic Act 11469, also known as the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act or the Bayanihan1, SB Corp, the financing arm of DTI, has approved a total of 17,167 loan applications amounting to P1.25 billion through its Bayanihan Covid-19 Assistance to Restart Enterprises program.
At the Senate hearing of the Department’s budget last Nov. 18, budget sponsor Senator Sonny Angara clarified that the Department of Budget and Management has already released to SB Corp. a total of P8 billion of the P10 billion for MSMEs loans. This is pursuant to the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act or Bayanihan 2. It was also clarified that since the fund is for the equity of SB Corp., the fund has no expiration date.
“As we gradually reopen our economy, we’ve already seen signs of recovery. 95% of businesses have already reopened as of end-October, coming from 62% last June at the height of the lockdown,” said Lopez.
“While there are good signs of recovery, we are not yet hitting pre-Covid levels, and understandably so, due to reluctance of some people to go out. In addition, there are still restrictions in some sectors, such as age, in the movement of people and curfew hours,” he added.
The trade chief noted that hard-hit sectors during the pandemic include tourism, transportation, entertainment, retail, and other non-essential sectors.
He said, “If we want to accelerate the recovery of our economy, we need to build consumer confidence and save MSMEs from bankruptcy to retain jobs and sources of income. With more income, this means more spending, which will boost demand and economic activity.” (PR)