Senator Win Gatchalian urged the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to boost its information campaign on the availability of soft loans, which provide longer grace period for repayment terms and lower interest rates, and financial grant programs to typhoon-affected micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to prevent loan sharks and online lending schemes from targeting small business owners.
“Bago pa samantalahin o mahikayat ng mga iligal na nagpapautang ang sitwasyon ng mga pinadapang negosyo ng bagyong Odette, dapat nating ipaalala sa mga negosyong ito lalo na ang mga MSMEs na may pondo at programa ang gobyerno para sa kanila,” Gatchalian said.
“Ang importante ngayon ay magkaroon sila ng pang kapital upang makabalik sila uli sa pagnenegosyo nang sa gayon ay maisalba ang mga trabaho at mapigilan din ang posibleng pagtaas ng presyo ng mga pangunahing bilihin,” he added.
MSMEs can avail of collateral-free loans through Small Business (SB) Corp., the micro-lending arm of the government under the DTI. Gatchalian said through its Pondo sa Pagbabago at Pag-asenso (P3) Program, micro enterprises with an asset size not exceeding P3 million can borrow up to P200,000 with a 2.5% interest rate per month.
Also under the P3 Program is the Enterprise Rehabilitation Facility (ERF) that covers all natural and man-made calamities that adversely affect microbusinesses in vulnerable areas. This is a quick response for efficient mobilization of loan funds for immediate recovery. Areas and sectors to be financed must be declared under the state of calamity or reported to be severely devastated.
Gatchalian said that through government initiatives like these, struggling MSMEs can have an alternative financial line instead of borrowing from informal lenders or the 5-6 money lenders.
Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez already announced the availability of an initial P200 million for livelihood assistance to micro enterprises affected by typhoon Odette in some provinces in Visayas and Mindanao.
The senator saw the extent of damage left behind by typhoon Odette as he has been making the rounds in Maasin City in Southern Leyte, Loboc in Bohol, Surigao City and the municipality of Tagana-an in Surigao Del Norte.
Gatchalian is the first elected national official to visit the municipality of Tagana-an, according to its Mayor Cesar Diaz Jr., after Typhoon Odette hit the area.