Ramon Lopez holding a microphone: COVID-19 loans to MSMEs near full takeup © STAR/ File COVID-19 loans to MSMEs near full takeup

MANILA, Philippines — A lending facility to support micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) severely affected by the coronavirus pandemic is nearing full utilization as total approved loans have reached P4.5 billion as of June 9, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said.

In a statement, the DTI said the approved loans under the COVID-19 Assistance to Restart Enterprises (CARES) program cover 30,408 applications.

Administered by the DTI’s financing arm Small Business Corp., the CARES program was allocated P1 billion from the 2021 General Appropriations Act? and P4 billion from the Bayanihan 2 law.

“In view of this, there is a need to replenish this fund if we are to lend out to more MSMEs affected by the pandemic,” Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said.

He expects the total amount set aside for the program to be used up by the end of the month.

Despite the budget being close to full utilization, he still encouraged MSMEs to continue applying for the program.

“With this microfinancing program providing collateral-free and interest-free loans to businesses affected by the pandemic, our MSMEs can begin to rebuild their respective businesses and take part in the recovery that has started around the world,” he said.

The DTI is also working with the Department of Tourism in promoting the P6 billion CARES for Tourism Rehabilitation and Vitalization of Enterprises and Livelihood (CARES for TRAVEL) program for tourism-related businesses.

More applications are expected to be made for the CARES for TRAVEL program as tourism activities reopen.

Lopez expects consumer and business confidence to also pick up with the arrival of vaccines in the country and the inclusion of the A4 priority group or essential workers in the private and public sectors in the inoculation program.

“The country’s vaccination program will prove to be a timely shot in the arm as well for the economy, as it will lead to continuous reopening with less threat of a surge, thus creating a good momentum for sustained recovery, more investments and greater employment opportunities for the Filipinos,” Lopez said.

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