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Only five percent of the businesses in the Philippines remain closed amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said but consumer confidence has yet to pick up, according to a report by GMA News.

There are 1.42 million registered businesses in the country and 99.6% of them are considered micro, small, and medium enterprises, Senator Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan said during the plenary deliberation on DTI's proposed P22.012-billion budget for 2021. He asked how many are still hampered from operating due to the pandemic.

"For closed establishments and MSMEs nationwide, as of end-June there was 38%, end of August was 9%, end of October was 6%, and November was 5%," Senate Committee on Finance chairperson Sonny Angara answered after receiving information from DTI representatives.

Pangilinan clarified if this meant that the rest are already back in operation.

"Yes, 95% have reopened but they may not necessarily be generating the same amount of business... Probably a lot have diminished—the retail sector, the transport sector, the tourism sector," Angara said. "Theoretically they are open but in actuality and as reflected by the third quarter economic figures, the confidence is not there."

he Philippine economy continued to contract in the third quarter of the year, based on data released by the Philippine Statistics Authority. Economic growth averaged -10% in the first nine months of 2020.

 

Status of Bayanihan aid


Under the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act or Bayanihan 2, P10 billion was allocated for the DTI to help distressed businesses through the COVID-19 Assistance to Restart Enterprises (CARES) Program but only a tenth has been transferred to its coffers, so far.

"I was told that out of the P10 billion we appropriated in Bayanihan 2, only P1 billion has been released as of today, November 18, and that DTI has approved 1,660 loans equivalent to around P1.2 billion," Angara said.

"They have received over 26,000 loan applications starting November. They hope the money can be released so they can process even more of these loans," he added.

The senators were bothered that the remaining P9 billion has yet to be released by the Department of Budget and Management and called for the latter's quicker action so that the appropriations under the emergency measure may be utilized.

Angara said Congress may have to really consider the motion to extend the validity of the Bayanihan 2 beyond December 19, considering the circumstances.

Later on, Angara corrected the initial figures he mentioned about the amount released by the DBM to Small Business Corporation (SB Corp.) under the DTI.

"The DBM has released P8 billion already to it. We apologize for the earlier confusion. DBM has released P8 billion to SB Corp. and SB Corp. has released P1 billion to over 1,600 borrowers," he said.

He added that the amounts released by the DBM to the SB Corp. will not revert back to the treasury should it not be distributed to borrowers within the year. 


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