(PNA file photo)

MANILA – Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez said the agency’s financing arm has released a total of PHP7.2 billion worth of loans to micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to help them recover from the pandemic.

At the launch of the Rise Up Program Friday, Lopez said the PHP7.2-billion loan disbursed to MSMEs came from the Coronavirus disease 2019 Assistance to Restart Enterprises (CARES) program of Small Business (SB) Corp.

Lopez said CARES loan has assisted around 42,100 borrowers.

SBCorp launched the CARES program, a zero-interest loan, in 2020 with a PHP1-billion budget funded internally.

With the success of the program, Congress allocated PHP10 billion under the Bayanihan to Recover as One (Bayanihan 2) for the CARES loan. However, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) only released PHP8.08 billion to the DTI’s financing arm.

Of the total released fund, PHP4 billion was allotted for multi-sectoral MSMEs and PHP4 billion for tourism-related MSMEs. The rest was spent for the mobilization and operating expenses to roll out the microfinancing program.

Lopez said loans for multi-sectoral MSMEs were fully utilized while the facility for the tourism sector was underutilized as tourism-related enterprises were reluctant to borrow money even at zero-interest rate due to their low operating capacity.

To date, some PHP2.7 billion is still available for MSMEs in the tourism sector, Lopez said.

To continue this microfinancing program, SBCorp has launched its online loan facilities available to multi-sectoral MSMEs.

Lopez said SBCorp is allocating PHP6 billion for the Rise Up Program, which has three sub-programs including RiseUp Multi-Purpose Loan for multi-sectoral MSMEs, RiseUp Tindahan for MSMEs under a fast-moving consumer goods network, and RiseUp Turismo for MSMEs engaged in tourism activities. (PNA)