DUTERTE ASKS LESSORS | Do not kick out MSME tenants

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President Rodrigo Duterte has asked lessors to come up with amenable arrangements with their tenants as micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) try to survive amid the coronavirus disease pandemic.

In his 5th State of the Nation Address yesterday, Duterte stressed the need to help MSMEs recover from their losses due to community quarantine measures implemented to fight Covid-19.

He requested commercial establishments to provide a grace period and allow deferment of payment, especially for MSMEs, and not to cut off their electricity and water connections.

“This is not the time to drive away lessees. During normal times, they were the primary source of your income stream. Now is the time to be fair and compassionate, come up with an amenable arrangement with your tenants,” Duterte said.

He also called on the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas and other banks in the country to provide regulatory relief for MSMEs by allowing payment extension on their loans and amortization without incurring penalties and charges.

“We need your help to prevent the collapse of companies with accumulated amortization and payables caused by closure of their businesses at the height of these quarantine periods,” he added.

Duterte said the government responded to MSMEs’ needs toward recovery by providing zero-interest loans through the Covid-19 Assistance to Restart Enterprises (Cares) program of Small Business Corp., the financing arm of the Department of Trade and Industry.

An initial P1-billion fund was earmarked by DTI for the Cares program.

DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez said the department will roll out more funds for the program as loan applications reached P3.38 billion, as of last week.

“The government will intensify its efforts to help businesses, especially micro, small, and medium enterprises or MSMEs, by providing responsive government assistance and services capitalization and business operation support as we adapt to the next new normal,” Duterte said.

He also encouraged Filipinos to support MSMEs by patronizing local products and services, adding that MSMEs will not thrive if consumer support is lacking.

The DTI has revived the “buy local” campaign promoting products and services of domestic enterprises to help them recover from their losses due to the global health crisis.

In a survey done by DTI from June 7-14, 25.9 percent of 2,135 surveyed businesses said they have closed down their stores temporarily or permanently.*PNA

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