MANILA – The Small Business (SB) Corp. approved a total of PHP 3.38 billion in loans to micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) under the Covid-19 Assistance to Restart Enterprises (CARES) program, Commerce Secretary Ramon Lopez said on Thursday.
In a TV interview, Lopez said the finance arm of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has provided financial assistance to around 28,000 borrowers affected by the pandemic.
In a message to reporters, he said some PHP 2.78 billion in loans had been made to 23,141 borrowers.
He added that 10% of borrowers were from the tourism sector, which is “severely damaged” due to mobility restrictions amid the 2019 coronavirus disease (Covid-19) crisis.
However, Lopez said obtaining loans under the CARES program during the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) in the National Capital Region (RCN), Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal or “NCR Plus” has slow motion.
“Their operations are limited. If they borrow and they can’t function, they can’t pay their loans, ”he said in Filipino.
But compared to last year, Lopez said the number of borrowers in DTI’s zero-interest loan program for MSMEs has improved.
The DTI chief said SB Corp. received 200 requests per week when the CARES program started, and now receives 1,000 requests per week.
SB Corp. also increased its processing capacity to around 4,000 requests in one month, he said.
“We must continue this microcredit program because there are still many takers, who still need working capital loans to save their operations and their jobs,” he added. (ANP)