Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez said Friday that his department’s budget for 2022 and leftover cash from the Bayanihan II economic stimulus package might be sufficient to provide loans and livelihood aid to 500,000 micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs). 

Mr. Lopez said at a House budget hearing that the 2022 budget for MSME loans is P1.5 billion while P1 billion has allotted for livelihood kits. The department can also tap P2 to P3 billion in cash remaining from Bayanihan II intended for MSMEs. 

He said the funds are sufficient for assistance to the 500,000 MSMEs at an average of P10,000 each. 

There are one million registered and around six million unregistered MSMEs. 

“If wecwere to target assisting 1 million MSMEs, ideally we would need P10 billion,” Mr. Lopez noted. 

In June, the department said the program for businesses affected by the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) had disbursed P4.5 billion worth of loans to 30,408 applicants. 

Around half of small businesses reported declining sales in June, off the high of 90% reported in July 2020. – Arjay L. Balinbin