Escudero urges government to cut red tape to speed up aid distribution to MSMEs
MANILA, Philippines — The government should seek ways to speed up the disbursement of billions in underutilized COVID-19 aid to micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs), Sorsogon Governor Francis Escudero said Monday.
“The fight against bureaucracy is perpetual revolution. Cut cut cut. It’s like a marathon. No record is static, it must be broken,” Escudero, who previously chaired the Senate Banking, Financial Institutions and Currency Committee, said in a statement.
“Hindi takes 33 days to start a business and 120 days to process construction permits, according to a World Bank study,” he added.
Escudero said the government must find a way to ensure MSMEs get the help they need, otherwise there is no way to revive the economy.
“Bakit? Dahil 99.5% of enterprises and establishments in the country are MSMEs. They employ 63% of the workforce and represent 40% of our gross domestic product. They are not a subsector of the economy, they are the economy,” Escudero said.
“Kailangan natin silang tutukan dahil kapag nakabangon sila, 99% din ing ekonomiya ang makakabangon, 99% din ang babalik na mga trabahong nawala,” he added.
(We need to focus on them because when they recover, 99% of our economy will recover, 99% of lost jobs will come back.)
Citing a report by the Commission on Audit (COA), Escudero pointed out that only 4.09 billion pesos, or 45% of the 9.08 billion peso budget of the COVID-19 Business Restart Assistance Program ( CARES), had been published as of June 30. 2021.
The funds will be distributed as interest-free, collateral-free loans to pandemic-hit MSMEs.
The COA report also indicates that 4,378 or 9.12% had their applications canceled due to the lengthy process and lack of updates on the status of their loan applications, Escudero said.
According to Escudero, based on a survey conducted by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry in June 2021, around 10% of MSMEs had closed, 46% were partially operational and 44% were fully operational due to the pandemic.
During the same period, 765,454 workers were displaced, compared to 1.4 million, according to the study, which included 33,145 respondents. — Jericho Zafra, INQUIRER.net intern
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