GUIDE bill gets penultimate House approval

The first bill filed in the House of Representatives in the 19th Congress has been approved on second reading by congressmen.

The House plenary (Ellson Quismorio/ MANILA BULLETIN)

Also known as House Bill (HB) No.1, the proposed Government Financial Institutions (GFIs) Unified Initiatives To Distressed Enterprises For Economic Recovery (GUIDE) was passed on second reading during plenary session Wednesday, Dec. 7.

The approval of the measure came via simple voice vote (ayes vs. nayes).

The GUIDE bill is one of the priority measures identified by the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC). It was filed in the House last June 30, the first day of the current 19th Congress.

Among the principal authors of the bill are House Speaker and Leyte 1st district Rep. Martin Romualdez, Senior Deputy Majority Leader and Ilocos Norte 1st district Rep. Sandro Marcos, Committee on Accounts Chairperson and Tingog Party-list Rep. Yedda Marie Romualdez, and Deputy Majority Leader and Tingog Party-list Rep. Jude Acidre.

Under HB No.1, the loan assistance programs, rediscounting, and other credit accommodation facilities of the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP), Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP), Small Business Corporation, and the Agriculture Credit Policy Council will be expanded.

Some P20 billion will be set aside for this purpose.

The LBP will extend loans to businesses engaged in activities in the agribusiness value chain, while the DBP will provide loans to eligible micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) engaged in infrastructure, services, service industry, and/or manufacturing business.

The LBP and DBP will be mandated to create a special holding company (SHC) to reinvigorate strategically important companies (SICs) experiencing liquidity issues due to significant economic challenges of national or international scope such as those from the agriculture, infrastructure, services, and manufacturing industries.

As a condition, companies availing loans cannot reduce the number of their employees beyond the prescribed percentage that will be set, issue stock dividends/repurchases without prior authority from SHC, issue cash dividends, increase salaries, benefits, and other forms of remuneration of senior executive officers and directors, grant senior executives and directors separation pay or retirement pay, and incur irregular, unnecessary, excessive, extravagant or unconscionable expenditures.

The measure is expected to be passed on third and final reading next week before Congress starts its five-week holiday recess.