Congress should immediately pass the two pending measures of the Duterte administration to help the pandemic-hit businesses that are mainly micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs), the Department of Finance (DOF) said.

DOF BUILDINGNEWs - COVID-hit businesses need CREATE, FIST —DOF

Finance Assistant Secretary Antonio Joselito Lambino II said the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises (CREATE) and Financial Institutions’ Strategic Transfer  (FIST) bills will address many of the concerns raised by businesses in a recent World Bank survey.

According to Lambino, CREATE and FIST bills, once passed into laws, provide cheap credit, cash transfers, deferral of rent and mortgage payments along with sizable tax cuts, interventions that 74,031 businesses surveyed by the World Bank expect from the government.

The finding of the online survey, conducted from July 17 to 14, should serve as a “strong impetus” for the Congress to immediately pass the CREATE and FIST measures, the DOF spokesperson said.

“These measures aim to address the urgent concerns of businesses reeling from the global economic downturn brought about by the prolonged outbreak of COVID-19,” Lambino said in a statement.

He added the survey findings are also aligned with the objectives of Republic Act (RA) 11469 or Bayanihan 1 and RA 11494 or Bayanihan 2.

“We hope that this recent report helps persuade our lawmakers to pass  both priority measures to provide immediate aid to Covid-battered businesses and spur the quick recovery of the domestic economy from the pandemic,” Lambino said.

In partnership with the DOF and the National Economic and Development Authority, the World Bank Philippines conducted the business survey to measure the impact of the pandemic on companies, with a focus on MSMEs. 

Topping the most desired forms of state intervention by MSMEs and other businesses are cash transfers (46 percent); loans at subsidized rates (36 percent); tax exemption or deduction (22 percent); deferral of rent, mortgage or utilities (22 percent); and deferral of loan payment (22 percent). 

“The findings of the study confirm that the Philippine government’s economic recovery programs are responsive to the needs of MSMEs,” Lambino said.

Bayanihan 1 launched the largest cash transfer program for small business workers in the country’s history along with deferral of loan and utility payments. 

Bayanihan 2, on the other hand, included similar programs and infuses capital into government financial institutions for lending to MSMEs and other productive sectors of the economy.

CREATE and FIST are currently under the periods of interpellation and sponsorship, respectively, in the Senate.

Both measures have already been passed by the House of Representatives.

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