The Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP) is working with the government on the details of a lending facility to assist pandemic-affected micro and small businesses in paying their employees’ 13th month pay.
ECOP president Sergio Ortiz-Luis Jr. said on Teleradyo Nov. 8 the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), and Department of Finance are allocating P200 to P500 million in principle for the new facility, which will give interest-free loans to finance employees’13th-month salary.
The funds will come from Small Business Corp. (SBCorp) under Bayanihan 2. The loans are estimated to be paid back in one to two years, he said.
With the Christmas season coming, Ortiz-Luis said that micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSME) are willing to provide 13th and 14th-month pay, but problems with cash flows are setting in and they are unable to give their employees’ salaries.
“Marami naman ay gustong magbayad ng 13th month pay, kaya lang, alam mo naman ang cash flow nila, kung minsan ‘yung sweldo pa lang ng mga tao ay hindi na nila ma-meet. So, nakapag-provide naman ng facility doon sa SB Corporation, sa DTI, na walang interes or may konting interes lang, at mabilis ang processing,” he said.
Ortiz-Luis added that he does not encourage all businesses, especially MSMEs, to apply for loans to provide bonuses for their employees. “Ang ine-encourage namin ‘yung talagang gustong magbayad na walang pambayad,” he added.
Meanwhile, ECOP commended the easing of restrictions to Alert Level 2 in Metro Manila. Continued softening should have started in September, according to Ortiz-Luis, because there was already an agreement from the health and business sectors to adopt a "live with the virus" strategy in August.
He also claimed that the vaccination rate of business sectors is high, as local government units and businesses are cooperating in the inoculation of employees.
“Mganda [ang pagpapabakuna]. Dahil dito sa MetroManila, siyempre yung LGUs nagco-cooperate naman. Kahit na hindi taga-doon sa kanila, basta nagta-trabaho doon, pinasok na nila sa vaccination program,” he said.
Ortiz-Luis added that vaccine hesitancy is not a problem in the business sector, and the government’s improved stockpile of vaccines will help in the economic recovery.