SB Corp. to open loan facility for 13th month

Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez

THE Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), through its financing arm Small Business Corporation (SB Corp.), is initially earmarking P200 million for a lending facility assisting micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in paying 13th-month salaries.

The Trade department announced on Tuesday that SB Corp. is now creating a borrowing program for struggling MSMEs needing help to fund their 13-month salaries. This is also being discussed with the Department of Labor and Employment.

“That [lending window] is being worked out now by SB Corp. Offhand, setting aside around P200 million for a start, expecting around 50,000 to 200,000 types of loan for the 13th-month pay,” Lopez told the reporters.

The trade chief said he sees “no reason to defer the 13th-month pay” because the government can provide financial assistance to the business sector.

The DTI said it also provided financing for the MSMEs seeking additional funding for 13th-month pay last year through SB Corp.’s Covid-19 Assistance to Restart Enterprises (CARES) program. It came from the P8-billion allocation under the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act.

While the CARES program can aid the businesses, Lopez said that a “more sustainable solution” is the further reopening of the economy.

“The idea here is that we allow more business continuity and simply adjust operating capacities at different Alert Levels to safely increase mobility,” he said.

More mobility is possible with higher vaccination rates, Lopez said, noting that the National Capital Region has reached 80-percent immunization coverage against Covid-19.

“This will be a shift from the open-close-open-close system at different lockdown levels and will bring back more economic activities and jobs. This strategy will also bring better chances of meeting financial obligations as we advance the country’s vaccination rollout and move closer to a New Normal,” he added.

Metro Manila is under Alert Level 4 until October 15.

Outdoor dine-in and personal care services—including barbershops, hair spas, nail spas and beauty sales—are allowed 30 percent capacity. For indoor capacity, operations are capped at 20-percent for fully vaccinated individuals only.

Gyms and fitness studios, meanwhile, are given 20-percent operational capacity for non-contact exercises and fully vaccinated customers. Previously, Lopez stressed the need to reopen the gyms as exercises are vital to build better immune system amid the pandemic.

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