Ilocos Norte government offers interest-free loans for MSMEs

Published October 11, 2020, 12:58 PM

by Freddie Lazaro

LAOAG CITY – The provincial government of Ilocos Norte is offering interest-free loan assistance for small-scale businesses to help them recover from the effects of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

Under the “Microfinancing for Micro and Small Enterprises Most Affected by the COVID-19 Pandemic” Program, qualified applicants whose businesses are still in operation may avail of loans that will provide working capital worth P10,000 to P200,000 with zero interest and payable in 12 months.

The program will prioritize the “underprivileged” or startup businesses with an asset worth P300,000 below, as well as small and medium enterprises.

The province’s Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise (MSME) Office will accept applications starting on October 12, and every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday thereafter.

Applicants are required to submit the following requirements: accomplished loan application form, one government-issued ID, proof of business address, barangay business certification, and mayor’s permit, Department of Trade and Industry Registration, and the latest financial statement or proof of income.

According to Ilocos Norte Governor Matthew Marcos Manotoc, the loan program was initiated to help local MSMEs in preparation for the upcoming reopening of the tourism sites in the province on October 15.

“When we discuss tourism, it’s not the economy and visitors but more so the families and local livelihoods that rely on this powerhouse of an industry. Let us make sure that we prioritize the people behind this dear industry and make sure that they are the ones that benefit the most from this reopening,” said Manotoc.

Earlier, the national and regional tourism head, the Region I Local Chief Executives, heads of tourism councils, and president of tourism organizations spearheaded the “Ridge and Reef” launch alongside presenting available itineraries and local products. 

Department of Tourism (DOT) Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat reiterated that the Ridge and Reef Memorandum of Agreement was aimed at promoting the establishment of green lanes for tourists and promote safe travel and seamless interconnectivity of land voyage in the region, subject to various health and safety protocols set by the Department of Health, National Inter-Agency Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases, and local government units (LGUs), among others. 

Puyat described the travel corridor as “zones between territories that have demonstrated a capacity to effectively control the spread of COVID-19, and will allow residents of certain provinces and regions to travel safely within designated zones through public health, and safety will be continued to be safeguarded”.

Criteria to open as a travel corridor include low number of COVID-19 cases, the presence of an international gateway for tourists, adequate health facilities to support the influx of tourists, in place new normal protocols, and openness of the local government units and communities to accept and host tourists.