DOT, SB Corp. ink loan deal for pandemic-hit tourism MSMEs
Robie de Guzman • October 16, 2020 • 146
MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Tourism (DOT) announced it has signed a loan deal with the Department of Trade and Industry’s Small Business Corporation (SB Corp.) which aims to extend assistance to small tourism-oriented firms that were badly-hit by the coronavirus pandemic.
In a news release on Thursday, the DOT said the signing of the memorandum of agreement (MOA) is to finalize the CARES for Tourism Rehabilitation and Vitalization of Enterprises and Livelihood (TRAVEL) program that will extend loan assistance to micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSME) from the tourism industry.
“We thank Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon M. Lopez for making CARES for TRAVEL program a priority. We look forward to working with the SB Corp in providing our tourism enterprises with what they need – access to working capital loans,” Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said.
“The DOT believes that this program will accelerate the country’s tourism recovery from the harsh impacts of the pandemic. By working together, we can hopefully bring tourism, an industry that contributed 12.7% to the country’s 2019 GDP, back to its glory days,” she added.
Through the CARES for TRAVEL program, tourism MSMEs will have access to zero interest, no-collateral loans with a loan term period of up to four years, including a corresponding grace period of up to one year, the department said.
The borrower MSMEs will only need to pay a one-time service fee, which is set at a maximum of eight percent for a 4 year loan, it added.
SB Corp. will evaluate and process all loan applications of DOT-accredited MSMEs and local government-accredited small-scale tourism-oriented enterprises to ensure their eligibility and will determine the loanable amount and terms in accordance with the CARES for TRAVEL program guidelines.
The DOT, for its part, will regularly endorse to SB Corp a list of DOT-accredited tourism enterprises and LGU-accredited small-scale tourism-oriented enterprises that may be entitled to avail of business loans under the CARES for TRAVEL Program, subject to further evaluation by SB Corp.
Meanwhile, the SB Corp will regularly submit loan implementation reports to the DOT subject to compliance with Republic Act No. 10173 or the Data Privacy Act of 2012.
“Aside from rescaling, rebooting, and making some sort of whole industry pivot, we also recognize the need for tourism MSMEs to have access to financial assistance or funds just to tide them over the present pandemic crisis,” Romulo-Puyat said.
The agreement between the DOT and SB Corp. seeks to disburse P6 billion worth of loans to tourism MSMEs, using the budget allocated to the program under the Bayanihan to Recover As One Act (Bayanihan 2).
Experts from the University of the Philippines (UP) OCTA Research team said relaxed travel restrictions may still pose health risks.
Dr. Guido David, team member of the UP OCTA Research, said it is too early for the country to accept inbound travels and that further review is needed to avoid coronavirus disease (COVID-19) transmission.
“There’s a surge happening right now in Europe so if we were not careful, maraming cases [there are a lot of cases] outside the Philippine, in Europe and certain parts of the world, kasama pa rin diyan iyong sa (these includes) the United States and India. So we have to be careful about letting people,” he said.
David also said despite the drop of COVID-19 cases in Metro Manila, there is still a possibility for cases to increase if no safety measures is implemented.
“We’re also a bit worried because the rate of decrease in NCR is not that low anymore. It’s very slow. So it could be, the trend might be reversing anytime,” he added.
Services of Red Cross should also resume first, according to David, because its testing capacity covers 1/4 of the total testing capacity of the country. He also reiterated the need for the public to cooperate in order to fight against the virus.
“The public should be aware that the virus is still here. That the pandemic is not yet over. So if they’re loosening restrictions, responsibility is in the public in deciding whether or not they want to go out,” he said. -AAC (with reports from Vincent Arboleda).
Patuloy nang bumababa ng antas ng COVID-19 transmission sa Cebu City kasabay ng pagdami naman ng mga gumagaling mula sa sakit, ayon kay DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu.
Batay sa hawak nilang impormasyon ngayong buwan ng Oktubre, sinabi ni Cimatu na nasa 1 hanggang 0.5 percent ang positivity rate sa lungsod.
Ibig sabihin aniya ay isa na lang ang nagpopositibo sa sakit sa bawat 100 na isinasailalim sa COVID-19 testing.
Ngayong Oktubre, umabot sa 9,307 ang bilang ng mga gumaling mula sa COVID-19 at walang napaulat na nasawi.
“If you look at the data, more than 600 death ang all of Cebu City since June and bigla na lang naging zero, what is this? This the indication really of the success of the effort of this team,” ang pahayag ni Cimatu.
Si Cimatu ay nagsisilbing chief implementor ng COVID-19 response ng pamahalaan sa Cebu City. – RRD (mula sa ulat ni Correspondent Irish Madelo)
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