DTI’s SB Corp. approves over 20,000 loans for small businesses

Robie de Guzman   •   February 12, 2021   •   654

MANILA, Philippines – A total of 21,695 loan applications under the Bayanihan COVID-19 Assistance to Restart Enterprises (CARES) program for small enterprises have been approved by the Small Business Corporation (SB Corp.) as of February 9, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said.

SB Corp. is the financing arm of DTI. Its CARES program seeks to provide micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSME) with urgent relief needed to restart their businesses amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Our efforts to provide relief and assistance to MSMEs through the CARES program are further strengthened, especially as we work towards the sustainable and inclusive recovery of our nation,” Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said in a statement issued on Wednesday.

“Over 20,000 MSMEs have already benefitted from this loan portfolio, which has helped businesses survive from permanent closure, recover from the effects of the pandemic, save or even create more jobs, and provide income to millions of Filipinos and their families,” he added.

Applications approved are equivalent to a loan amount of P2.35 billion, according to SB Corp. President and CEO Ma. Luna Cacanando.

Under the Republic Act No. 11494 or the “Bayanihan to Recover as One Act” (Bayanihan 2), financial support amounting to P10 billion has been allotted to the CARES program to help mitigate the adverse impact of the pandemic on MSMEs.

Lopez said the application process for CARES program have been simplified “to ensure that more businesses are able to avail of this service.”

The loan application and evaluation process, as well as the releasing process, have also been shifted online to reduce physical contact amid the pandemic.

He said the SB Corp. completes its evaluation of loan requests within seven working days, even faster if the documents are complete.

“Submission of documents such as BIR tax return can fast-track approval,” he said.

“There is currently no backlog on its loan evaluation work contrary to what other reports say. We are even promoting the program to more MSMEs applicants,” he added.

The trade chief emphasized that MSMEs are a key pillar of the country’s economy, which contribute 35.7% to GDP, employ 62.5% of the labor force, and constitute 99.5% of all business establishments in the country.

Based on a nationwide survey of over 3,000 MSMEs conducted by DTI, around 38% were forced to close down during the height of lockdown in April to June last year, and this number went down to 5% towards yearend 2020, as more sectors were gradually reopening. 

“Loans from the Bayanihan CARES Program are interest-free, collateral-free, and are available to MSMEs, cooperatives, hospitals, and tourism businesses that have been in operation for at least one year,” Lopez said.

“Repatriated or returning OFWs who wish to engage in start-up business may also apply for a loan under the program after some trainings,” he added.

Loan terms can be up to four years, including a grace period of up to 12 months, giving MSMEs enough breathing space for the business to recover, and time to pivot and innovate their business models.  

“We encourage all MSMEs across the country in all regions to consider taking the step in reopening or reconfiguring your respective businesses. The features of the Bayanihan CARES loan are intended to allow entrepreneurs to restart their businesses with ample elbow room.  There is no need to worry about loan repayments for one year. There is also no need to worry about escalating financing costs,” Lopez said.

Interested applicants may submit their loan requests through www.BayanihanCARES.ph or contact the CARES Hotline at 8651-3333, and at 1-800-10-651-3333 (nationwide toll-free) for inquiries.

DTI welcomes move to shorten curfew hours in Metro Manila

Robie de Guzman   •   June 14, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez welcomed the decision of the Metro Manila Council (MMC) to shorten the uniform curfew hours being implemented amid the coronavirus pandemic-induced community quarantine.

In a Palace briefing on Monday, Lopez said shorter curfew hours would allow restaurants and other business establishments to operate for longer hours. This would also give workers and businesses additional income.

“Malaking tulong ito kasi yung extension ng opening hours nila will allow additional one or two more turnovers, yun palit ng tao and more customers,” Lopez said.

“Of course, mas malaking kita para sa mga workers sa mga istablisyementong iyon, that means they can close around 10, 10:30 and will still allow greater mobility,” he added.

On Monday, Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) chairperson Benhur Abalos, who is also the concurrent head of the MMC, announced that the 17 Metro Manila mayors have unanimously agreed to adjust the curfew hours in the region in a bid to spur economic activity.

Abalos said the curfew hours will be implemented from 12 a.m. to 4 a.m. starting June 15. Previous curfew hours started at 10 p.m.

Metro Manila is under general community quarantine (GCQ) with restrictions until June 15.

Earlier in the day, Inter-Agency Task Force and Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said that new community quarantine classifications to be implemented in the country after June 15 will be announced on Monday night.

He said there is a possibility that Metro Manila and nearby areas will be placed under the regular GCQ due to lower COVID-19 daily and two-week attack rate and healthcare utilization rate.

Roque, however, noted that the number of COVID-19 cases remains high in the country.

“Most likely, it will be ordinary GCQ, this has been announced also publicly as the recommendation of our implementers, the Metro Manila mayors. Although I don’t want to second-guess, an ordinary GCQ would result in higher percentage capacity particularly for indoor dining and indoor facilities,” he said. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

DTI: Halos 200-libong manggagawa, balik-trabaho sa ilalim ng GCQ

Robie de Guzman   •   May 14, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Maaari nang makabalik sa trabaho ang nasa 200-libong empleyado matapos na ibalik sa general community quarantine “with heightened restrictions” ang National Capital Region (NCR) at mga karatig-lalawigan.

Ayon kay Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez, magiging daan ang paglipat sa GCQ ng NCR, Bulacan, Cavite, Rizal, at Laguna – tinatawag na NCR Plus – upang mapababa ang bilang ng mga nawalan ng trabaho noong kasagsagan ng enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).

“As we further open the economy, we are expecting to bring back 200,000 to 300,000 jobs to lessen the number workers displaced since the start of the ECQ,” ani Lopez.

Noong nasa ilalim ng ECQ ang NCR Plus, umabot sa 1.5 milyon ang bilang ng mga Pilipino nawalan ng trabaho dahil sa coronavirus pandemic.

Nabawasan ito at naging isang milyon noong ipinatupad ang modified ECQ.

Ayon kay Lopez, sa ngayon ay aabot pa sa 700-libong manggagawa ang hindi pa rin nakakabalik sa trabaho dahil sa limitadong operasyon ng ilang establisimyento gaya ng mga restaurant, at barbershop. – RRD (mula sa ulat ni Correspondent Joan Nano)

Procurement Law hinders gov’t purchase of locally made PPEs — DTI

Marje Pelayo   •   April 29, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) explained why the government couldn’t prefer buying locally-made personal protective equipment (PPE) amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

During the Laging Handa briefing on Thursday (April 29), Trade Undersecretary Ruth Castelo responded over concerns from garment manufacturers who claim losing income and competition with imported PPEs.

According to Castelo, the repurposing of businesses was a project that the government requested from local manufacturers since the beginning of the pandemic last year.

“Project natin ‘yan last year, kinonvince natin silang (manufacturers) na mag-repurpose. Iyong mga gumagawa dati ng mga kung ano-anong produkto, nag-convert into producing face masks, face shields, PPEs, at that time during the emergency,” Castelo said.

“Kaya lang, ang hindrance diyan sa bidding process, we have RA 9184, ito ‘yung procurement law natin. It does not specify na preference natin ang domestic production,” the official explained.

Art. X Sec. 34 of RA 9184 provides for the objective and process of post-qualification of bids.

It reads, “Post-qualification is the stage where the bidder with the Lowest Calculated Bid, in the case of Goods and Infrastructure Projects, or the Highest Rated Bid, in the case of Consulting Services, undergoes verification and validation whether he has passed all the requirements and conditions as specified in the Bidding Documents.”

“If the bidder with the Lowest Calculated Bid or Highest Rated Bid passes all the criteria for post-qualification, his Bid shall be considered the ‘Lowest Calculated Responsive Bid,’ in the case of Goods and Infrastructure or the ‘Highest Rated Responsive Bid,’ in the case of Consulting Services,” it added.

“In all cases, the contract shall be awarded only to the bidder with the Lowest Calculated Responsive Bid or Highest Rated Responsive Bid,” it further stated.

During the Senate hearing on Wednesday (April 28), garment manufacturers lamented that after DTI convinced them to repurpose their businesses and respond to the needs for face masks and PPEs, the government still ended up importing said products.

They said that since the government couldn’t support them, they were left with no choice but to export their products.

“We were subjected to the lowest cost and unfortunately, also at the same time, the Philippine market was flooded with very low-cost PPEs from China. Some of them are even substandard,” said Rosette Carillo of the Coalition of Philippine Manufacturers of PPE (CPMP).

But Castelo said, it is not that the government does not consider the local manufacturers but because of the law that hinders the government to do so.

“Hindi naman sa hindi natin kinonsider sila [local PPE manufacturers], because of the law that we have, sana nai-push natin na sila mismo ay makalaban sa specifications ng imported products na pantay sila or lampas pa,” Castelo said.

She explained that no less than Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez himself made a recommendation on the matter to prioritize domestic purchase especially that the Department has the “Go Lokal, Buy Lokal” Program.

During the Senate hearing, the Confederation of Wearable Exporters of the Philippines (CONWEP) reported that an estimated 25,000 workers from some of its member companies lost their jobs due to the crisis.


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