MSMEs need a lifeline to weather crisis

April 09, 2020

Sen. J l Villanueva is hoping to see the implementation of the economic assistance the government committed to provide micro, small and medium enterprises, one of the badly-suffering sectors facing the brunt of the crisis brought about by the 2019 Coronavirus disease.

In a statement, Villanueva expressed concern on the ability of the sector to maintain jobs during this pandemic.

"Just as we immediately implemented emergency employment programs for our affected workers both in the formal and informal economy, we should likewise act with dispatch to provide relief to MSMEs. We must throw them a lifeline immediately, so they in turn can sustain their workers too. The assistance that we will provide to them should be conditional on them keeping their workers now and until the economy recovers,"explained Villanueva, chairman of the Senate Committee on Labor, Employment, and Human Resource Development.

"Matinding hamon ang hinaharap ng ating mga MSME. Kabuhayan ng milyung-milyong manggagawa ang nakataya kung hindi agad makakarating ang tulong ng pamahalaan sa mga MSME," he added.

MSMEs employed some 5.7 million workers in 2018, according to data from the Department of Trade and Industry, representing about 13 percent of the total number of employed workers.

Industries severely affected by the community quarantine enforced in Luzon and other local governments are in the wholesale and retail trade, and food and accommodation sectors which comprise at least 50 percent of the employment generated by MSMEs, data from the Philippine Statistics Authority showed.

The Bayanihan Law of 2020, which Congress passed two weeks ago, mandated the DTI to provide relief for "productive sectors of the economy".

 The agency is preparing for the implementation of its Pondo Sa Pagbabago at Pag-asenso  Enterprise Rehabilitation Financing worth P1 billion, which is expected to roll out once the quarantine restrictions are lifted.

The trade department has issued a moratorium on payment of loans of about 127,000 micro enterprises under the P3 program, as well as 15,000 MSME who have existing loans under the government-owned Small Business Corp.

Other government lending institutions have existing loan programs such as the Development Bank of the Philippines' Small Business Puhunan Loan Program and Rehabilitation Support Program. Land Bank of the Philippines offers loans under its Calamity Rehabilitation Support Program.

MSMEs can also seek assistance from the Department of Science and Technology through its Small and Medium Enterprise Technology Upgrading Program.