Bicam cited for House initiatives for MSMEs

The leadership of the House of Representatives lauded Friday the bicameral conference committee on the Bayanihan to Recover as One Bill or Bayanihan 2 for adopting the initiatives of the chamber to support the swift recovery of distressed micro, small, and medium enterprises that absorbed the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano said the House is ready to ratify the bicameral committee report on Monday.

House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano (PCOO / MANILA BULLETIN / FILE PHOTO)

"The swift approval of Bayanihan to Recover as One in the bicameral committee has shown the joint commitment of both Houses of Congress to unite and help bring our nation back from the brink of public health and economic ruin brought about by this global pandemic," said Cayetano.

Cayetano said the approved version of the bicameral panel will contain low-interest loans that  can be accessed by productive sectors of the economy, including self-employed individuals, cooperatives, and MSMEs

The reconciled Bayanihan 2 also  provides that lending institutions will not require collateral for loans not exceeding P3 million, with loans payable within three years.

Of the P140-billion appropriations provided under the measure, Bayanihan 2 seeks to infuse a total of P39.47-billion worth of capital to Government Financial Institutions (GFIs), broken down as:

-- P10 billion to the Small Business Corp. (SBCorp) to strengthen its COVID-19 Assistance to Restart Enterprises (CARES) program to ensure additional access to working capital for MSMEs, cooperatives, hospitals, tourism industry players, and overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

-- P5 billion for the credit guarantee program of the Philippine Guarantee Corp. (PHILGUARANTEE).

-- P18.47 billion for Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP).

-- P6 billion for Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP).

Another P15.52 billion has been included in the standby fund for the LBP and DBP to be made available once additional funds are generated from savings and unused amounts.

Cayetano noted that while only P140 billion will be readily available, a standby fund of P25.5 billion has been provided as the authorized  spending plan could reach as high as P165.5 billion, which includes a total of P25.5-billion standby fund.

Based on the approved bill, the combined regular appropriations and stand-by fund for the government financial institutions will total P55 billion, which is equivalent to one-third of the entire package.

Cayetano said MSMEs in the agri-fishery, transport, health, and tourism sectors as well as cooperatives and OFWs can avail themselves of the various loan facilities to help them reboot their businesses and preserve more jobs.

He cited a June 20 report from the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) that showed more than 3,000 establishments nationwide permanently closing or cutting back their workforce due to the pandemic, leaving 90,000 people jobless.

"With adequate support from government and strong collaboration with the private sector, we hope to reverse the trend of joblessness and restore business confidence in the country as we strengthen our fight against COVID-19," he said.

The House official assured small business owners that the government will continue to find solutions that will bring about short- and long-term benefits as the country recovers from the health and economic crisis.