THE Trade department is requesting P500 million to fund equipment to be shared by micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSME) in 2021.

The department’s shared-service facilities (SSF) program provides machinery, equipment, and tools to companies, usually targeting cooperatives, small-scale food processors and light industry.

The program’s goal is to improve product quality, tap new markets, and create new jobs.

Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez said in a radio interview Wednesday that the department has been working with Budget Secretary Wendel E. Avisado and Senator Christopher Lawrence T. Go to secure funding, noting that many cooperatives need equipment at this time.

Nag-aappeal pa kami (We asked for) up to P500 million for next year.”

The Department of Budget and Management allocated P100 million for this year.

Para nga sa additional na pondo, dahil walang na-pondo dito sa SSF eh for this year, (This year’s SSF funding is depleted, so we need more),” Mr. Lopez said.

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) in January said it would provide shared service facilities for agri-business to process bamboo, in line with the Philippine Bamboo Industry Council’s plans to convert at least 19,000 hectares of land to bamboo plantations.

Loan applications for MSME recovery are currently more than triple the available funding at the department’s financing arm, the Small Business Corp. (SB Corp.).

Applications are now at P3.38 billion, while SB Corp.’s initial funding was P1 billion. DTI has been seeking more funds from state banks. — Jenina P. Ibañez