MANILA – The COVID-19 pandemic has shuttered about a quarter of the country's micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs), the trade department said Friday, as authorities lined up measures to lift the economy from recession.
About 26 percent of 1.5 million MSMEs were "partially or temporarily closed" by the pandemic, 52 percent are partially operating and 22 percent are fully running, said Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez.
"You know naman the micro SMEs, laban lang iyan (they fight). They will probably not operate for now and think of a new business model and open again," he told ANC.
"We intend definitely to provide a stimulus package for MSMEs. The needs right now, especially for micro MSEs, would be basically soft loans, working capital, just to sustain their operation and sustain the jobs of their workers," he added.
A pending stimulus bill in Congress seeks to allot some P50 billion to help MSMEs. Banks are also urged “to provide some regulatory relief and basically provide loan term extension" to businesses, he said.
The Philippine economy shrank in the second quarter, plunging into recession, the first time in nearly 30 years, following one of the longest and strictest lockdowns in the world to curb the spread of COVID-19.
Earlier this week, Metro Manila and 4 surrounding provinces returned to the second tightest lockdown level to give health workers "breathing space" and contain COVID-19 cases that have topped 100,000.
The reimposition of the modified enhanced community quarantine or MECQ in these areas will have a "drastic" impact on businesses required to operate at half of their capacity again, said Lopez.
"However, we have to bite the bullet, sabi nga (as they say). But I’m hoping this will just be 2 weeks. Ganoon naman eh (that's how it is), as we try to manage the virus and live with it and reopen safely, ‘pag may mga problema, we can do this thing. We can step back a bit then pursue again, try to reopen gradually and safely," he said.