Ayuda, hindi pautang: Stella Quimbo proposes expansion of financial assistance for MSMEs

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By Billy Begas

Marikina Rep. Stella Luz Quimbo has called on the government’s economic managers to expand various subsidy programs from micro, small, and medium enterprises.

Quimbo said the assistance such as the Department of Trade and Industry’s (DTI) Livelihood Seeding Program – Negosyo Serbisyo Sa Barangay (LSP-NSB) is “the way to get small businesses re-started.”

The lady solon made the call after the Commission of Audit (COA) reported that a total of P4.99 billion or more than half of the allotted loans for MSMEs under the COVID-19 Assistance to Restart Enterprises (CARES) program, was unused as of the end of June 2021.

The CARES Program is one of the lending programs designed for pandemic response. It is being implemented by the Small Business Corporation (SBC), which received P9.08 billion to be distributed as collateral-free, zero-interest loans to MSMEs under Bayanihan 2 law.

“Noon pa naman, naniniwala ako na ang unang kailangan ng ating maliliit na negosyo ay hindi pautang, kung hindi, ayuda,” Quimbo said.

Quimbo said that based on the feedback of numerous stakeholders, MSMEs, and bankers that were consulted during the House committee hearings for economic recovery measures, small businesses want financial aid and not loans.

“Sa harap ng mga lockdown at pagsara ng mga negosyo, naging takot, lalo na ang maliliit na negosyante, na mangutang dahil walang kasiguraduhan ang kanilang kita sa gitna ng mga restrictions buhat ng pandemya,” Quimbo added.

She said subsidies are especially important today, with the series of oil price hikes.

Meanwhile, Quimbo said that it would also make sense for the government financial institutions to further streamline the loan requirements and provide more effective credit mediation services.