Government Support for Filipino citizens during the pandemic

Covid19 made geographical, social, economic, and gender boundaries insignificant by making its presence felt across the globe. This unprecedented health crisis of high infectivity potential without any specific treatment made the entire world clueless about its mitigation. The first response to this pandemic in many countries was LockDowns. Even though lockdowns were instrumental in imparting the knowledge of Social distancing, Face mask usage, and frequent hand washes, they kept people out of work. Reduced financial activities and soaring costs for healthcare management pushed the economies of even mighty countries to doldrums. For the economically vulnerable class, the mitigation strategies of lockdowns and restrictions was a cure worse than the disease.

The Philippines is a country with a huge expatriate population. Hence, implementing standard mitigation measures such as lockdowns, quarantine, or travel restrictions were inevitable to safeguard the Filipinos from the ugly manifestations of Covid19. As an immediate relief measure, the Philippines government has devised a direct cash aid program of 20Billion and a loan grace period of 30 days. In the Philippines, the MSME sector – Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises – is the major contributor to revenue generation and employment. When the pandemic hit, MSME recorded more than 26% of business closings in segments such as Tourism, Agriculture, Hospitality, Entertainment, and the travel industry.

To rejuvenate the economy and ensure a sustainable income for the citizens, the Philippines government has developed a slew of financial assistance programs. In this article we will talk about some of these plans. If you belong to one of the categories of citizens for which the programs are designed, the information will be useful for you.

Trade assistance for micro-entrepreneurs

The sector that has been severely affected by Covid-19 is MSMEs or micro, small and medium enterprises. What is MSMEs? They are organizations with assets ranging from 1 to 100 million pesos. Most of the Philippine business is owned by micro-enterprises.They make a huge contribution to the country’s economy. But now they need help themselves. At the moment, maintaining and supporting MSMEs is one of the many challenges that the government will face during the pandemic.

  1. The Livelihood Seeding Program / Negosyo Serbisyo sa Barangay offers financial assistance of P5,000 to P8,000 for micro-entrepreneurs with an asset size of up to PHP 3Million. The majority business in the Philippines falls under the micro-entrepreneurs category. This targeted loan is a significant shot in the entrepreneur’s arm to recoup after the hardships of Covid19.
  2. Similarly, Pondo sa Pagbabago at Asenso (P3), the flagship program of Small Business Corporation (SB Corp), enables a micro-entrepreneur to secure a loan of up to PHP 200,000 for a monthly interest of 1.5%.
  3. The COVID specific enterprise rehabilitation scheme, Covid-19 P3 Enterprise Rehabilitation Fund (ERF), is a comprehensive financial assistance plan for the MSME segment. The plan offers loans up to PHP 200,00 for Micro businesses. If you fall under the fold of Small Businesses with an asset size of PHP 10 Million, the loan limit is PHP 500,000. There won’t be any processing charges, and the loan interest rate is 6% per annum.
  4. A tweaked version of P3 loans, christened as COVID-19 Assistance to Restart Enterprises (CARES) Program, is also available for the lockdown hit industries to get back on their track. CARES offers DTI loans from P10,000 to PHP 50,000 for 12 months for Micro-enterprises. For small businesses with assets up to 15M, the loan availability is from PHP 51,000 to PHP 500,000 . The loan period is 24 months. The CARES scheme’s significant advantages are zero interest and a grace period of 6 months to repay the capital. But contrary to the parent scheme, there is a service charge of 6%.

Help For Tourism Business

Tourism and hospitality services are one of the primary revenue sources for the economy of the Philippines. For the year 2019, the tourism sector’s contribution to the Gross Domestic Product(GDP) is 12.7%. The tourism industry provides direct employment to more than 5.71 Million. It stimulates the economy through myriad ways such as transportation, supplies, and indirect employment. When the pandemic hit, the entire world adopted a firefighting approach by closing the boundaries and imposing travel restrictions, leading to a complete standstill of the tourism industry. The industry performance for Jan -July 2020 shows a dip of 72% from the same period of the previous year, leading to massive job losses. The unabated spreading of the Covid19 infection across the borders will keep international tourism recovery in limbo, at least for a few more months.

It creates a precarious situation for all the stake-holders-the entrepreneur, employees, and the economy. As part of revitalizing the industry, the government is trying hard to improve domestic tourism through active campaigns and financial assistance plans such as Tourism Response and Recovery Plan (TRRP).
The Tourism Response and Recovery Plan (TRRP) has a fund allocation of PHP 10 Billion under the Bayanihan2 bill.

The distribution of the fund is subdivided as :
• Soft loans for MSMEs operating in the Tourism sector – PHP 6 Billion
• The welfare of displaced and unemployed workers of the tourism industry – PHP 3 Billion
• Infrastructure development activities such as Road maintenance and facility improvements in tourism hot spots – PHP 1 Billion

DOT expects this massive infusion of funds will be a significant boost for the efforts of 144,640 establishments and more than Million employees in accommodation and food service activities to overcome the problematic period efficiently.

OFW Support

Overseas Filipino Workers and their inward remittance of around $34Billion are significant pillars in maintaining the financial stability of the Philippines. Covid-19 significantly affected the life and employment of OFWs working in different foreign countries. Loss of job or uncertainty about the income and the looming threat of Covid-19 infection forced a significant portion OFW to return to the homeland.

It created a complicated situation for the families who depend heavily on the OFW to meet their household expenses and children’s educational expenditure. As a solace to the burning issues of OFW, The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) has allocated PHP400 million for the educational expenditure of OFWs suffering due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The project EASE (Educational Assistance through Scholarship in Emergencies) provides yearly financial assistance of PHP 10,000 for a maximum of four years for a college-level dependent of an OWWA member. Any active member of OWWA at the time of repatriation to the Philippines after the pandemic outbreak declaration on Feb.1 2020, can apply for the loan.

Educational Support

The pandemic has bought a paradigm shift in the way schools function. Conventional brick and mortar classrooms changed to virtual classrooms, and distance education through online classes is the new normal. Facilities such as broadband connections, smartphones, tablets, and other digital devices are essential for ensuring quality online training. Not all teachers or students can’t afford such expenses during these cash strapped times.

To reduce the digital divide and make online education accessible to all, The Pasig City government distributes tablets to public school students. The Pasig City scholarship program that offers financial support to more than 18000 students from public schools is now open for private schools as well. A preliminary estimate shows that more than 3000 students from private schools would benefit from the scheme.

All the public schools are now equipped with high-speed internet connections and Risograph machines so that students or teachers can download and print materials upon requirement. For those who don’t have a home internet connection, the government-owned internet centers with advanced facilities would be a relief. Teachers, Students, or parents can use the facilities by following the Covid19 regulations.

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Livelihood Support for workers

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) offers PHP 6.3M as Livelihood aid for marginalized workers to recover from the hardships of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The beneficiaries include fishers, coconut farmers, tricycle drivers, mechanics, self-help groups, and displaced workers. Similarly, the emergency employment assistance program helps daily wage laborers to get financial assistance to overcome the loss of workdays during the quarantine.

Agriculture Support

The farmers and fishers are the food security frontlines for the Philippines. But the Covid-19 regulations are a challenge for farming and the smooth functioning of the markets. It pushes the agriculture sector to the verge of collapse. The government is extending its support to the segment through various monetary support schemes under different heads.

  1. The most prominent support is the PHP one Billion loan of The department of Agriculture. The loan aims to support the recovery of marginalized farmers, fisher flock, and agri-fishery enterprises from the impacts of the Covid19 pandemic. To ensure continued production and food delivery during this COVID era, the government has mooted a “Plant, plant, plant” campaign. The Agriculture Department has earmarked a PHP31 billion fund to improve the production of food grains, livestock, poultry, and fish through advanced farming methods and techniques. The loan can be instrumental in pumping emergency funds for improving the working capital of various organizations that experienced a severe blow in production due to the extended lockdowns.
  2. Under the SURE Covid-19 loan program, eligible farmers and fishers can borrow a non-collateral loan of PHP 25,000 at zero interest rate for ten years. If you are into agri-business, you can borrow up to P10 Million at zero interest for five years. The loan amount and the conditions can vary based on the nature of ownership, such as Single Proprietorship, Partnership, corporation, or association.
  3. Apart from loans, a subsidy of PHP5,000 is available for rice farmers who plant one hectare or less.
  4. The Social Amelioration Program (SAP) of PHP200 Billion gives cash aid from PHP5,000 to PHP 8,000 to families of most vulnerable backgrounds for two months to overcome the hurdles of COVID-19 induced job losses or lockdowns.

Unemployment Support

Scores of people in the private sector lost their jobs due to the pandemic. The social security system (SSS) set aside a PHP 1.2 billion fund to provide immediate unemployment support for its members. The plan entitles private employees, including household workers or OFWs, to get instant support of PHP 20,000 in cases of accidental loss of job due to quarantine or Covid19 mitigation methods.

Conclusion

The schemes we discussed here are meant only for the management of emergencies and to avoid large debts and job losses. But they are not solutions for your financial problems due to the pandemic.
We ought to co-exist with the virus for some time. It means each one has to chalk out an excellent financial strategy to suit their requirements. Challenging times require innovative solutions, and we have all the right reasons to be optimistic about the future.
One of the options for emergency funds are loans. On our site Allthebestloans.com you will find a large selection of companies where you can quickly borrow money with a minimum of documents. However, there is no need to abuse this method. Take exactly as much as you can give, and only if you really need money for serious things, not for entertainment.

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Written by | Modified date: September 21, 2020

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