Senator Win Gatchalian said the government should exhaust all means to provide relief to pandemic-hit small businesses and put them back on track to prevent further job losses. He is bent on pushing for the legislation of allowing micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) by further lowering the costs of borrowing to encourage them to continue their operations.
A year into the pandemic, the financial impact has seen the loss of jobs of millions of Filipinos. These MSMEs are the backbone of our economy, according to Gatchalian, noting that the said sector accounts for 62.4% of total employment and 99% of the total number of businesses in the country.
“It is disheartening to note that this year’s Labor Day celebration will be rendered inconsequential to those who were laid off temporarily or permanently and those receiving lesser pay because of reduced work hours following the coronavirus outbreak,” said Gatchalian.
“But we can also look at this year’s Labor Day celebration as most relevant as efforts are all geared towards saving businesses and revival of the country’s economy,” he added.
In the latest figures released last March 30 by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), it showed that unemployment rate slightly increased from 8.7% last January to 8.8% in February this year and this translates to 4.2 million jobless Filipinos in February, some 200,000 higher than the number of those unemployed in January.
Gatchalian said the proposed Government Financial Institution Unified Initiatives to Distressed Enterprises for Economy Recovery (GUIDE) now pending in the Senate seeks to expand loan programs of the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) and Land Bank of the Philippines (Landbank) and allows to rediscount loans and other credit accommodations to those MSMEs in the construction, manufacturing, retail trade, repair of motor vehicles, accommodation and food service activities as well as farmers, fisherfolks, and traders, among many others. It also seeks to streamline loan applications to ensure the speedy processing of loans for MSMEs.
“Kailangang paghandaan at pag-aralan nating mabuti ang mga programang ihahain sa mga nawalan ng trabaho. Kung bibigyan sila ng ayuda, mas mabuting hindi lang pantawid sa pangkasalukuyang pangangailangan kundi trabahong masasandalan nila nang pangmatagalan, may pandemya man o wala,” he emphasized.