"What is the government’s plan for micro-, small- and medium-sized businesses?"
I just received a note from a friend of mine who runs a small restaurant (30 tables) and a retail shop in a mall selling antiques and artworks from struggling artists. He employs about 30 people and takes in additional ones (mainly servers) if the need arises. He has been dutifully paying his dues: rentals, utilities, taxes and, of course, wages and benefits for his workers.
Since the lockdown began, he has tried as best as he can to ensure that his workers are taken care of: the regular ones he gave their monthly wages as well as have their leaves credited for extra funds. The others, he shelled out whatever he can to get them through until the lockdown's lifting.
Beyond that, he can only hope that things will somewhat "normalize" although he realizes that it will be a new normal, if ever. Thus, he is crying out for help like all the other small and micro, perhaps even medium, enterprises out there who have to restart themselves under very, very tight conditions. Here's his take which hopefully government and others can look into:
"The President in his address late last night said that help is coming but mainly to address the urgent needs of the ‘poorest of the poor’ and the disadvantaged. I can understand that. They need to be assisted as they are in most need of government assistance. But I hope the government will also take a look at the situation of business, specially micro, small and perhaps even medium sized ones, all of whom will have to restart their trade somehow. These sectors employ the majority of our workers yet they do not have the same kind of voice as the Big Ones who get to hobnob with friends in high places and get their concerns answered quite quickly. We need to also know how we can work things out in these hard times so that we can support not just ourselves but the millions of workers and their families who depend on us for their existence. We would like the government and other leaders to give us some answers and stay our fears:
Do we have a stimulus package for businesses specially micro, small and medium ones? The Big Ones, I am sure, can take care of themselves; perhaps they have even steered government to their favorite incentives.
Are there any fiscal and monetary policies in place to help us out during this crisis?
The government says it will provide five to eight thousand pesos allowance for all salaried workers. How can we avail of this incentive for our own workers? What are the guidelines? What about those who are outsourced and working on a day-to-day basis? Some of these are our own workers too?
Can the Bangko Sentral provide assistance in terms of our loans and amortizations? Can they increase credit limits? Can they oblige the banks for deferred payments?
Can mall owners forego rentals for at least 60 even up to 90 days? Or at least extend payment terms?
Can government assist us as far as business taxes are concerned? Can we have extended payment terms or even a moratorium?
Can government also assist in terms of sourcing for our requirements like, say, for our supply of ingredients, equipment and the like?"
There are a number of other issues that my friend raised but I will leave these for some other time. Suffice it to say that there are a thousand and one concerns out these specially for these SMSEs and micro enterprises including those businesses in the informal sector which need to be looked into if we are going to be regain our footing—and move forward.