SBCorp’s low-interest loans will help revive the tourism industry
Senator Sonny Angara has called on the Small Business Corporation (SBCorp) and the Department of Tourism (DOT) to use unspent funding from Bayanihan to recover in one act (Bayanihan 2) to help tourism industry players to prepare for the restart of activities after nearly two years of hibernation.
As a sponsor of Bayanihan 2, Angara said significant funding has been earmarked for aid to tourism, one of the hardest hit sectors since the COVID-19 pandemic began in March 2020.
Based on data from SBCorp, a total of P4 billion has been allocated under B2 for providing low interest loans to the tourism sector.
In a recent statement, SBCorp said only 278 million pesos in loans to the tourism sector had been approved as of February 28, 2022, while an additional 524 million pesos are “in process”.
“Many tourism industry players were hesitant to take loans and this was understandable as many were unwilling to resume operations as quarantine classifications constantly changed,” Angara said.
“But now that more people are vaccinated and the number of COVID cases has gone down, the country has opened its doors to foreign and domestic tourism. The barely used loan facility will help revive the operations of tourism stakeholders in anticipation of the influx of arrivals,” added Angara, Chairman of the Finance Committee.
The Interagency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases has relaxed its rules regarding foreign tourist arrivals by allowing fully vaccinated people to enter the country.
For unvaccinated tourists, the country will now allow their entry as long as they can show a negative COVID test, including a lab antigen test taken within 24 hours before leaving their home country.
Under B2, which expired on June 30, 2021, a total of P10 billion was provided to SBCorp as a capital injection for providing low-interest loans to micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) and the tourism sector.
Unlike most other funds under Bayanihan 2 which were no longer available after the law expired, Angara explained that the unused amounts provided to SBCorp are still available since they are now part of the capital of the Department of Commerce and industry supervised. solidify.
Of the 10 billion pesos allocated by Congress to SBCorp under Bayanihan 2, only 8.08 billion pesos were released by the Department of Budget and Management, including 7.93 billion pesos for the program loans to MSMEs and the tourism sector. .
SBCorp said the full 3.93 billion pesos for MSME lending has already been drawn.
“Reviving the tourism sector after a two-year recession will go a long way to improving the lives of its workers, restoring sources of revenue to local government units and reviving the economy as a whole. We encourage SBCorp and DOT to reach out to operators who need assistance and streamline the loan acceptance and approval process so they can resume normal operations as soon as possible,” Angara said.