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The City Council, during last Monday’s regular session, approved on third and final reading an ordinance that reverted to the general fund some P100 million from the P150 million it earlier earmarked for the city’s anti-Coronavirus Disease 2019 drive and appropriated the same for the stimulus package being readied for micro and small businesses heavily impacted by the global pandemic.
Earlier, Mayor Benjamin B. Magalong sought the authority of the city’s legislative body to utilize the aforesaid mount for the city’s economic stimulus package as the health crisis is taking a toll on the local economy and most impacted are the vulnerable groups such as the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).
He added that non-essential businesses suffered immensely, creating unemployment in heavy losses in projected income and capital, thus, the city’s biggest challenge now is how to restore the vibrance of the economy so that businesses will bounce back and the people will get back their lost jobs.
The city chief executive explained that the city’s economic stimulus package is a non-interest-bearing loan payable in 24 months with a grace period of 6 months for the start of installment payments.
However, the loan will only be made available for micro and small businesses on a first come, first serve basis.
According to him, the city has no expertise in this kind of endeavor, not to mention the lack of human resources to perform the function on a full-time basis, hence, it is to the best interest of the city and more prudent given the circumstances, to partner with a government agency that has the specific mandate to extend loans to the MSMEs as the city’s conduit that will screen and approve applications and be its collecting agent based on the established guidelines.
He informed city legislators that the city’s local finance committee identified the Small Business Corporation (SBC), an attached agency of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), to have the said mandate as the agency is also handling a similar stimulus package for MSMEs in the Cordillera from national government funding.
The mayor claimed that the city’s funds will augment the allocation for the city from the SBC’s end.
He assured the body that as soon as the city and SBC shall have forged the agreement that will seal the deal, the same will be immediately furnished the council for confirmation to ensure the immediate implementation of the stimulus package.
Dubbed as Baguio Revitalization Actions for a Vibrance Economy – Economic Stimulus Package (BRAVE-ESP), the program is expected to be rolled out the soonest possible time as the local government is already raring to bring back the city’s economy to life.
Initially, micro businesses can borrow as much as PP50,000 while small enterprises can loan up to P100,000 with 6 percent service charge that will accrue to the SBC.
The city government already started to receive applications for the BRAVE-ESP but the processing of the same will have to be done after all the required documents shall have been perfected by both parties.
By Dexter A. See
Photo by Armando M. Bolislis
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