Government banks are encouraged to continue providing loans to micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to keep their businesses afloat as the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) expanded quarantine protocols.
During the online Tapatan sa Aristocrat Monday, University of the Philippines School of Economics Alumni Association president Jeffrey Ng said it is crucial that MSMEs survive amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic as they account for the bulk of employment in the country.
The IATF placed Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal under a stricter general community quarantine (GCQ) due to the surge in Covid-19 cases.
Covid-19 cases in the country hit nearly 8,000 cases daily in the past two days, with National Capital Region (NCR) and Regions 3 (Central Luzon) and 4A (Calabarzon) leading the number of new infections.
“It would be best for the government to continue providing credit access to these micro, small and medium enterprises. Let say Landbank, DBP (Development Bank of the Philippines), and Small Business Corporation (SB Corp.) should be able to lend more to these struggling companies because once they closed, they will have a difficult time reviving their operations,” Ng said.
He added private banks are more conservative in their lending policies as they are also being challenged by the pandemic.
“I think it’s only the government that can infuse needed liquidity and credit to these thousands of small entrepreneurs all over the country,” Ng said. “They are the ones who have to take on risk on lending on these struggling MSMEs.”
Federation of Filipino Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry Inc. vice president Cecilio Pedro said they are looking forward to economic recovery by the second half of this year.
Pedro said once the Covid-19 immunization program for the general public starts, the government “will rush in and put all their resources to help the economy and bring back the economy to a pre-Covid level”.
Meanwhile, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has been rolling out its Covid-19 Assistance to Restart Enterprises (CARES) program since the middle of last year.
The CARES program, implemented by DTI’s financing arm SB Corp., provides zero-interest loans to MSMEs.