By Vanne Elaine Terrazola
Senator Francis Tolentino has sought the inclusion of micro-businesses in tourist destinations in the government’s COVID-19 stimulus plan.
During his interpellation on the Senate Bill No. 1564 or the proposed “Bayanihan to Recover as One” Act on June 1, Tolentino said most businesses in the country’s tourist destinations are small enterprises whose incomes were affected by the travel restrictions implemented in light of the pandemic.
“Eighty percent sa mga negosyo sa ating tourist spots ay micro businesses (80 percent of the businesses in our tourist spots are micro businesses). Baka magaya tayo sa US na ang nakinabang lang ay ‘yung malalaking negosyo (We might end up like the US where the only ones that benefitted from the stimulus plan were big businesses),” he told his colleagues.
“Papaano na po iyong mga taga-Sagada (How about those in Sagada)? Wala naman siguro silang kakayahan na makakuha ng ganitong stimulus as stated in law (I don’t think they have the means to claim such stimulus as stated in the law),” said Tolentino for instance.
“This bill should include ways on how [to] jumpstart our tourism industry. The creation of a roadmap would provide us with [a] glimpse [of] how our tourism would address this,” he added.
The proposed “Bayanihan to Recover as One” law seeks to give the President continued authority to carry out programs addressing the COVID-19 pandemic and its impacts.
It also allocates a P236-billion standby fund to finance programs for COVID-19 response and assistance to affected sectors.
This includes, among others, an allocation of P10 billion for the Department of Tourism’s (DOT) programs for “critically-impacted” businesses in the tourism industry.
There is also a P50-billion proposed budget for government financial institutions to provide low-interest loans for micro, small, and medium enterprises that are affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.
Sen. Sonny Angara, sponsor of the measure, also said that the DOT has already been preparing a program for the recovery of the tourism industry.