Makati City is allocating P2.5 billion as economic relief to provide up to P100, 000 financial assistance to nearly 80, 000 businesses in the city amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.
This was announced by Mayor Abigail “Abby” Binay during a Facebook Live on Monday morning.
The grant aims to pump-prime the local economy during the pandemic.
“This is not a loan, but financial aid aimed to help some 78,000 businesses registered in Makati. We will ensure an easy, fast and automatic process for the approval of grants under the program,” she said.
Under the Makati Assistance and Support to Businesses (MASB) Program, Makati City will extend grants ranging from P10,000 to P100,000 to registered businesses in the city, depending on the type of business and the number of Makati residents it currently employs.
Moreover, the city government said the grant will be used to pay for salaries of employees, both Makati and non-Makati residents, and for payment for supplies.
The money will not be released to employers, but directly to employees and to their Makati-based suppliers, the LGU noted.
The recipients of the grant will not be required to pay back, provided that they comply with three conditions for the next two years: 1) They continue to operate; 2) They will not lay off any of the Makatizen employees; and 3) They will comply with the city’s ordinances and safety guidelines.
To encourage the registration of 100 percent online businesses, Binay said she has endorsed to the City Council an ordinance that will provide the lowest local business tax rate allowed by law for online sellers that do not have any physical store presence.
“I am calling on home-based enterprises – this is your chance to grow your online business by allowing the city to help you. Register, pay the lowest business tax and be recognized as a legitimate business entity,” the mayor appealed
“We will simplify the process and make it as contactless as possible,” she added.
To encourage brisk sales, the mayor said the city has created a “travel window” during curfew hours to give Makati residents coming from restaurants and food establishments in the city an extra hour to travel back to their homes without violating the curfew.
Binay said Makati residents should present a machine-generated BIR official receipt from food establishments they came from to avail of the travel window.
“Businesses, especially restaurants, cannot survive with very limited operating hours,” she explained.
Binay said the city government is planning to tie up with other stakeholders to provide pooled testing for employees of private businesses at a minimal cost.
If the city gets enough support from the private sector, the testing can be given free of charge, she added.
Recently, the city started the pilot implementation of the pooled swab testing of some 6,000 frontliners of stores and markets as well as drivers of public utilities at the Makati Coliseum. Makati City has been chosen as the pilot site for Project Ark’s science-based, pooled swab testing.
“These initiatives are intended to support businesses and ensure a safe environment for Makatizen consumers. We recognize the urgent need to help business owners recover in order to sustain their operations and retain their employees, which include city residents,” said Binay.