Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go lauded the efforts of the Executive Department for facilitating the reallocation of the funds of the Department of Trade and Industry for its Pondo sa Pagbabago at Pag-asenso (P3) Program to provide financing assistance to small and medium enterprises manufacturing COVID-19-specific medical devices and personal protective equipment.

“Pinupuri at nagpapasalamat po tayo sa Executive Department sa kanilang pagsusumikap upang ma-realign ang budget ng P3 program ng DTI upang makapagbigay ng assistance sa ating mga SMEs, lalu na sa panahon ng COVID-19,” Go added.

President Rodrigo Duterte granted the approval for the reallocation of the P3 Program fund to provide financing to SMEs manufacturing medical supplies and PPEs. The Small Business Corporation (SBC) Board will also determine the maximum loanable amount to enable the SMEs address the country’s supply gap for said medical equipment.

“Importante ang suporta na ito para mapagaan ang pinapasan ng mga negosyo at ng mga empleyado nila. Gusto nating mas mabilis manumbalik ang sigla ng ating ekonomiya, at gusto din nating merong mga sapat na emergency equipment tayo upang mas mabilis manumbalik sa normal ang ating buhay at ekonomiya,” he added.

Go earlier appealed to the Executive Department to also support the small and medium businesses after the government also heeded his call to support employees of these enterprises. The Small Business Wage Subsidy program is presently being implemented by the Social Security System, providing financial assistance to affected workers of MSMEs.

DTI was seeking approval of the “Reallocation of P500 Million from the P1.5 Billion P3 Program Fund under Republic Act No. 11465 (FY 2020 GAA) to provide financing assistance to small and medium enterprises (SME) manufacturing COVID-19-specific medical devices and PPE.”

The plan is to provide maximum loan size of PhP30 million to the said SMEs on the condition that loans exceeding PhP5 million shall require third party evaluation from a government financial institution, such as the Development Bank of the Philippines or the Land Bank of the Philippines, subject to reasonable compensation.

The Department of Budget and Management released a subsequent memorandum, recommending for the reallocation of the same amount to assist said SMEs.

The DBM also proposed that the determination of the maximum loanable amount should be subject to the decision of the SBC Board as it deals with a policy decision.

Government has determined around 250 SMEs manufacturing COVID-19 specific medical devices and PPEs requiring financial assistance. Supporting them will jumpstart their production and eventually address the supply gap of these medical items for the use of the medical frontliners.

In his appeal, the Senator urged the trade department to check its existing programs and services if there is anything that can potentially be used in helping these SMEs involved in the manufacture of COVID-19-specific medical devices and PPEs. He particularly pointed out the P3 program as possible source of intervention.

Senator Go also lauded the earlier move of DTI and the SBCorp to reallocate P1 Billion of its year 2020 P3 budget for MSMEs affected by COVID-19. Heeding to the directive of the President and upon recommendation of Senator Go to help the MSMEs, the P3 program fund for this year was redesigned to provide a much lower micro financing at an interest rate of only 0.5% per month, payable in two years, after a grace period of six months.

The P3 Program is being implemented by the DTI to help micro entrepreneurs optimize their potential and achieve growth through alternative sources of funding. It provides accessible financing which is tailor-fit to each entrepreneur’s business objectives, needs and cash flows, to bring down interest rates and replace the 5-6 microfinance scheme.

“Malaking parte ng bumubuhay sa ating ekonomiya ay ang mga MSMEs. Ayon po sa data ng DTI, 99.56% ng business establishments sa bansa ay MSMEs. Nearly seven out of every 10 employed Filipinos also work in this sector,” Go said.

Go added that supporting MSMEs will also complement the Balik Probinsya, Bagong Pag-asa Program, help boost regional development and provide livelihood opportunities in other parts of the country, especially to those who have expressed willingness to relocate to the provinces.

“Backbone ng ating national economy ang mga MSMEs. Masisipag ang mga Pilipino. Madiskarte sa buhay. Kung mabibigyan lang ng tamang tulong at training, hindi malayo na mas lalago pa ang mga negosyo sa mga lalawigan,” Go ended.

The Magna Carta for MSMEs provided for classification of these enterprises based on their respective asset size. Those with asset size of up to P3 million are considered as micro enterprises; P3,000,001 to P15 million asset size are small; and P15,000,001 to P100 million are considered as medium enterprises.

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