A CONGRESSMAN has filed a bill seeking relief for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) amid a Luzon-wide lockdown meant to contain a novel coronavirus pandemic.

Parañaque Rep. Joy Myra S. Tambunting filed House Bill 6683, which seeks to prevent these companies from closing down.

“While a thirty-day grace period for loan payments have already been imposed under the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, it is still necessary for the government to provide further relief to these enterprises in order to prevent them from closing down and causing mass unemployment,” she said in the bill’s explanatory note.

Under the measure, landlords must give MSMEs a 50% discount on rent for the periods covered by the community quarantine and a month after.

The Trade department must set up a program with which these companies can apply for subsidies for the rent of business spaces for the months of March, April and May.

Premium payments or contributions to the Social Security Service (SSS), Philippine Health Insurance Corp. and Home Development Mutual Fund of both the employer and employees of MSMEs will be waived and considered paid during the lockdown.

The measure also defers direct and indirect taxes such as income tax, value-added tax and withholding tax for at least three months during the lockdown without penalties.

MSMEs accounted for 99.5% of the country’s business establishments, generating 5.7 million jobs equivalent to 63.2% of the country’s total employment, according to Trade department data 2018.

The sector contributed 35.7% in terms of value-added and accounted for a fourth of the country’s export revenue. — Genshen L. Espedido