The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) on Tuesday said it is planning to create a lending facility, through its financing arm Small Business Corp. (SBCorp), to allow pandemic-hit micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) provide the mandated 13th month pay of their workers.
“Similar to what we did last year, we see no reason to defer the 13th month pay for this year as the government stands ready to support businesses amid the pandemic. We already reached out to SBCorp to develop a facility that will provide zero-interest loans to companies needing 13th month funding,” Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said in a statement.
The Trade chief said that the DTI is already discussing the matter with the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).
Last year, the Trade department lent out funds from the SBCorp’s CAREs or COVID-19 Assistance to Restart Enterprises program to help micro and small enterprises provide the 13th month pay of their workers.
The DTI’s CAREs program is meant to assist enterprises affected by the pandemic.
The program’s funding comes from the P8-billion allocation from the Bayanihan Recover As One Act or Bayanihan 2.
Apart from the continued rollout of the CAREs program, Lopez said that a more sustainable solution for businesses would be the continued reopening of more activities, even on Alert Levels 4 and 3.
The Trade chief noted that the real sustainable solution is the reopening of the economy, which the government has started to implement by allowing more sectors to safely operate at increased capacities.
“The idea here is that we allow more business continuity and simply adjust operating capacities at different Alert Levels to safely increase mobility,” Lopez said.
“This is more possible now due to higher vaccination rates, especially in the National Capital Region (NCR), which now has about 80% vaccination rate and, thus, can allow safely the vaccinated customers in closed, crowded, and close contact (3C) establishments at high alert levels,” he added.
The Cabinet official said the approach is a shift from the open-close-open-close system at different lockdown levels and will bring back more economic activities and jobs.
“This strategy will also bring better chances of meeting financial obligations as we advance the country’s vaccination rollout and move closer to a New Normal,” he said.
The Trade chief also expressed hopes that the development of new anti-viral medicines will further reduce the severe and critical COVID-19 cases in the country that will allow further reopening of businesses in the near future.—AOL, GMA News