The Small Business Corporation (SB Corp), the financing arm of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), said it has improved its internal capacity to process loan applications from Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) establishments affected by the pandemic quarantine controls.
DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez said in a statement the SB Corp is currently able to evaluate as many as 15,000 applications in a month because of the improvements they made on their approval system.
From the data provided by DTI, SB Corp has approved 17, 167 loan applications amounting to P1.25 billion through Bayanihan COVID-19 Assistance to Restart Enterprises program during the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act or Bayanihan1.
“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,” Lopez said.
As of August, DTI Palawan has recorded a number of 146 approved applications with P9.1 million allocation under P3 CARES or Pondo para sa Pagbabago at Pag-asenso COVID-19 Assistance to Restart Enterprises of SB Corp.
Most of the MSMEs in Palawan which availed of the loan program are from different businesses such as manufacturing, small establishments, and food.
DTI added that at the senate hearing of the DTI’s budget on November 18, budget sponsor Senator Sonny Angara clarified that the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) “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.”
Lopez said that as the country gradually reopens the economy, signs of recovery have been noticed. About 95 percent of business have already reopened as of the end of October, coming from 62 percent in June at the height of lockdown, he said.
The trade chief noted that hard-hit sectors during the pandemic include tourism, transportation, entertainment, retail, and other non-essential sectors.
“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.
“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,” Lopez said.