MANILA – The Small Business (SB) Corp. has approved a total of PHP3.38 billion in loans to micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) under the Covid-19 Assistance to Restart Enterprises (CARES) program, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said Thursday.
In a television interview, Lopez said the Department of Trade and Industry’s (DTI) financing arm has provided financial assistance to about 28,000 borrowers who are affected by the pandemic.
In a message to reporters, he said some PHP2.78 billion worth of loans were released to 23,141 borrowers.
He added 10 percent of the borrowers are from the tourism sector, which is “seriously damaged” due to restrictions in mobility amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) crisis.
However, Lopez said the take-up of loans under CARES program during the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in the National Capital Region (NCR), Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal or the ‘NCR Plus’ has slowed down.
“Their operations are limited. If they will borrow and they can’t operate, they can’t pay for their loans,” he said in Filipino.
But compared to last year, Lopez said the number of borrowers in DTI’s zero-interest lending program for MSMEs has improved.
The DTI chief said SB Corp. received 200 applications a week at the start of the CARES program, and now gets 1,000 applications weekly.
SB Corp. also increased its processing capacity to about 4,000 applications in a month, he said.
“We should continue with this microlending program because there are still many takers, still in need of working capital loans to save their operations and jobs,” he added. (PNA)