The Small Business Corporation (SB Corp) is again urging tourism-related enterprises in Palawan to avail of its loan program to utilize the over P3.5 billion remaining funds under COVID-19 Assistance to Restart Enterprises or CARES.

Cris Dile, SB Corp desk officer, said Thursday that out of about the P4 billion budget allocated for tourism-related enterprises, only P260,815,292 was released to 520 accounts nationwide. In Palawan, there are 38 accounts qualified for the loan program, amounting to P15,605,926.

Under Bayanihan CARES, the Tourism Rehabilitation and Vitalization of Enterprise and Livelihood (TRAVEL) was designed to help micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) recover, but Dile said MSMEs seem adamant about availing of it.

“Ang nakikita naming reason ay naghe-hesitate din sila. Although, available ang fund pero naghe-hesitate sila na baka kapag nag-loan sila, mas lalo sila mahirapan dahil noong pandemic, parang wala pa kasiguraduhan. Baka matagalan pa mag-open talaga ang economy natin dahil sa lockdowns, limitations sa travel,” Dile explained.

“Ngayon, it’s time na siguro to promote – siguro dahil nag-o-open up na, ‘yong alert level natin bumababa na. Iyon ang main reason siguro,” he added.

Observing the field, some MSMEs are now trying to go back to the tourism industry as more tourism-related businesses are now starting to inquire at their office, he said.

The previous implementation of CARES TRAVEL was only limited to MSMEs accredited by the Department of Tourism (DOT). But to cover more applicants, SBCorp will expand the loan program to include non-DOT accredited enterprises such as restaurants, catering, events organizers, transport, and tourist boat operators.

“Nandiyan na ang pondo, hangga’t may nag-apply hanggang sa maubos, ‘yan na siya. Para siyang sa regular CARES natin, bago na-stop noong na-saturate na ‘yong pondo. Ngayon, wala na ‘yong regular natin na CARES program kaya pinalawak namin. Hindi lang dati kung ang TRAVEL ay para naka-limit lang don sa DOT accredited, ngayon kahit hindi na basta nandoon ka sa chain ng tourism-related businesses katulad ng tourist transport sectors, tourist boats, catering services,” he added.

Applicants may check the loan programs of the SB Corp through and create an account for CARES TRAVEL. An option for applicants with or without DOT accreditation is also provided.

Once needed documents are submitted to the system, updates may appear within the week through their email and account in the system.

“Ang commitment lang namin, ng SBCorp, within one-month simula noong ma-verify ng aming document verifier na kumpleto, makapasa siya don sa business information assessment. Kapag naipasa ‘yon, ang commitment ng office ay dapat ma-approve at ma-release within a month from that period,” he said.

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is one of the senior reporters of Palawan News. She covers agriculture, business, and different feature stories. Her interests are collecting empty bottles, aesthetic earrings, and anything that is color yellow.