THE Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is offering P50 million in loans to businesses that will either rebuild structures damaged by Taal Volcano’s eruptions or relocate there.

The special window for microfinance program is part of a P3-billion fund launched in 2017 to provide an alternative to loan shark’s predatory rates, Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez told reporters on Thursday.

Batangas province, where Taal volcano is located, has been placed in a state of calamity.

“We have about P50 million for a start to allocate to businesses that would like to borrow,” he said.

The agency is also offering P7,000 to P10,000 in livelihood grants per business, Mr. Lopez said.

“We are now preparing a livelihood assistance for those who would like to revive their small business,” he said, adding that the program would focus on small and micro-businesses.

The Trade department in December said it would produce livelihood kits for calamity-affected areas.

Assistance to businesses affected by the Taal calamity will be offered in the form of cards that function like gift cards, instead of goods. This would prevent good from expiring and logistics complications, Mr. Lopez said.

The livelihood assistance cards can be used at partner groceries and shops. Grantees will be required to report their sales to the agency, which will also offer livelihood training programs.

About 40% of companies in nearby areas suspended operations for one to two days, while the majority of companies continued operations, Mr. Lopez said. — Jenina P. Ibañez