MSMEs need aid to help keep economy going

With the Department of Health (DOH) warning of a possible surge in COVID-19 infections in May, former House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano said small businesses need to be given assistance in order to survive and help keep the country’s economy going.

“Nakikita ko na magaling magnegosyo ang mga Pilipino, kulang lang talaga sa kapital,” Cayetano said in a media interview.

He said while the rich can tap into various sources of funds for their businesses, owners of micro, small, and medium-scale enterprises (MSMEs) often have no recourse but to turn to loan sharks.

“Kung titingnan mo ang mayaman, ang daming source ng puhunan: y’ung mismong kumpanya niya, y’ung assets ng kumpanya niya — kung isasangla o ibebenta. He can also enter into partnerships kung maganda naman ang negosyo niya pero kulang lang sa kapital. Kung nasa stock market siya, (pwede mag-raise ng funds) through the stock market or from bonds, or even facilities sa bangko,” Cayetano said.

MSMEs, however, usually don’t have access even to bank loans. “Kapag ‘yan ay micro at saka small scale e halos walang bangko ‘yan. Y’ung medium scale may konting bangko pero may limit. Five-six talaga ang tinatakbuhan,” he said, referring to usurers who charge exorbitant interests on cash loans.

“Hindi sustainable kasi 5-6 — y’ung inutang mong P50,000, P60,000 ang babayaran mo, yung inutang mong P500,000, P600,000 ang babayaran mo. Ang kumita lang y’ung magpapautang sa iyo, ikaw wala nang natirang tubo sa iyo,” he added.

Cayetano said what the government should do is allot “a couple of hundred billion pesos” that can be loaned to MSME owners on very manageable terms.

“Ipapangutang ito na walang interest or mababang-mababang interest, pero one year grace period and 10 years to pay,” he said.

He said the only collateral that would be required is that the businesses have complete papers and that they were earning during the two years of the pandemic.

“So this is actually a loan, kasi ‘pag ang negosyo tuloy-tuloy, may trabaho ang mga tao,” he said, highlighting the fact that 60 percent of the jobs in the country are with MSMEs.

Cayetano, however, said more important than providing loans to MSMEs is making them accessible.

“Napakarami nating mga programa na pwedeng gawin, but y’ung isa pang kailangan diyan is ipadali, maging madali ang pag-avail ng mga ito,” he said.

Cayetano said most Filipinos do not even know that there is an allotment of P500 billion in the 2022 national budget for different forms of financial assistance. The problem, however, is that it is difficult to access these funds.

“Sa ating budget ngayon we have almost 500 billion pesos pero ‘pag wala kang kilalang senador, sa Malacañang, mayor, o congressman, hirap kang makuha ito,” he said.

Cayetano said to address this, the government can use mobile technology to distribute aid directly to the beneficiaries.

“Dapat may app na rin ‘yan. Kapag kumpleto naman ang requirements mo, i-send mo lang and then through GCash or through a QR code sa phone mo e matatanggap mo na,” he said.

“Why do we have to make it difficult for people to get help eh pera naman nila yan,” he added.

Cayetano said the government has much to learn from private businesses in this regard.

“Kita mo sa e-sabong ang daling tumaya, ang daling kumita. Bakit pagdating sa gobyerno ang hirap makuha ng iyong ayuda? We can learn something from businesses,” he said.###

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