Fewer firms applying for gov’t loan program

FEWER small businesses have been applying for the government’s P10-billion loan program amid low business confidence, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said.

DTI Secretary Ramon M. Lopez said small businesses fear inability to pay back loans as customer demand is still down.

Loans released by the DTI’s Small Business Corp. (SB Corp.) COVID-19 Assistance to Restart Enterprises (CARES) program has reached over P2 billion for more than 20,000 applicants, he said at a briefing on Friday.

The department was allocated P10 billion for lending to micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises under the Bayanihan to Recover As One Act or Republic Act No. 11494. Prior to the implementation of Bayanihan II, the agency also had around P1 billion in initial funds.

Industry group Tourism Congress of the Philippines (TCP) last month said there should be more efforts to help businesses avail of government assistance, including business loans and cash-for-work programs for tourism workers.

Tourism businesses have been hesitant to apply for said loans, TCP President Jose C. Clemente III said.

The DTI, Mr. Lopez said, is promoting the program to encourage more businesses to avail of loans, adding that there is no backlog of loan applications.

Loan request evaluations take seven business days through the online and phone verification process, the department said last week. — Jenina P. Ibañez

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