THE COVERAGE of a loan program aimed at helping small businesses give the 13th month pay of their employees has been expanded to include more firms, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said.

Trade Secretary and Small Business Corp. (SB Corp.) Chairman Ramon M. Lopez said during the virtual ceremonial launch of the 13th month pay loan facility on Friday that the initiative now covers micro and small businesses with a maximum of 40 employees from 20 previously.

“We are increasing the facility to a maximum of 40 employees per company since for every employee, there is a budget of P12,000 to be allotted,” Mr. Lopez said.

“The facility is an assistance. However, the company will have to shoulder the other part of the 13th month pay. If there are 40 employees, the maximum amount that can borrowed by interested small businesses is about P480,000,” he added.

Robert Bastillo, SB Corp. spokesman, said the coverage of the program was expanded to give assistance to more employees and small businesses.

“When we first announced this program, the target is only 20 employees. After that, we increased the loan fund from P200 million to P500 million to accommodate more, and we also increased the maximum number of employees that can be covered from 20 to 40. We hope that by making those little adjustments, we could help more,” Mr. Bastillo said.

SB Corp., which is offering the loan facility, said it has already received 77 applications as of Nov. 12. Applications will be accepted from Nov. 2 to Dec. 7.

Of the total applications, 25 have been approved. Total loans approved have reached P5.05 million.

The loan facility has a budget of P500 million and offers loans with zero interest payable within 12 months.

Around 8,000 micro and small firms listed under the Labor department’s database of small businesses that availed of flexible working arrangements from March 16, 2020 to Oct. 15, 2021 are eligible for the loan facility. — R.M.D. Ochave