Negros Occidental Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson said the seriousness of the situation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic calls not just for decisive actions but also for innovative means to address current economic and health concerns.
Lacson spoke at a financing forum in response to COVID-19 at the provincial Capitol in Bacolod City today, December 4, where officials of the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP), Land Bank for the Philippines (LBP), and the Small Business Corp. outlined their programs to mitigate the effects of the pandemic on the economy.
The governor pointed out that when lockdowns and community quarantines were imposed in an effort to contain the spread of COVID-19, economies started to slump.
“Now, the year is about to end and the serious task on how we can save both lives and livelihood are staring at us in the face,” he said.
Hundreds to thousands of Negrenses from the sectors of agriculture, services, transportation, food and accommodation, construction and trade among others, are gravely affected by the economic impact of the lockdowns and quarantine measures, he said.
“Businesses now struggle to cover the costs of operations and how to pay their employees. Governments on the other hand are trying to mitigate the economic effects of the pandemic,” he added.
He said while physical distancing will be the norm for an indefinite period of time, such is a double-edged sword.
“While it is beneficial to public health, it can impede the concerted efforts to revive the economy,” Lacson said.
He lauded the University of St. La Salle Graduate School, led by its president Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Officer Edgardo Rostata, for leading the forum on how Negrenses can access the COVID-19 response of some financial institutions.
Ma. Suzannah Antenor Cruz, DBP Executive Officer III, said her bank is providing loans to registered micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) engaged in agri-fishery and non-essential services, with a preference for medium enterprises, including start-ups and cooperatives.
Vivian Canoñero, LBP assistant vice president for corporate affairs, said her bank has three new lending programs.
The I-Rescue provides additional credit and loan restructuring for small and medium enterprises, microfinance institutions and cooperatives under more flexible terms, Rise Up LGUs helps local governments revitalize and develop a stronger local economy, and the Enhanced Partnership Against Hunger and Poverty supports the government’s effort to reduce if not eliminate hunger and poverty, she said.
LBP has a P14.2 loan exposure that she hopes has helped pump prime Negros Occidental’s economy, she added.
Francisco Buenavides, Visayas Group head of the Small Business Corp., said SBC is a non-bank government financial institution mandated to help MSMEs in finance and information services, and training and marketing.*