Some 25,000 loan applications from pandemic-hit micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) remain pending, with P9 billion still unreleased from the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act. A Senate debate on the 2021 budget proposal of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) on Wednesday revealed that only P1 billion of the P10 billion funding assistance for MSMEs has been released.

Coming to the DTI’s defense, Sen. Sonny Angara said 1,660 of 26,245 loan applications in November had been approved, for a total of P1.2 billion. “The (DTI) hopes the money can be released so they can process even more of these loans. They’re quick to process, usually it just takes about a week to process these loans,” he said. 

But Sen. Francis Pangilinan, who brought up the inquiry on unreleased MSME loans, said the basic question remains: Why are the funds not being released? Pangilinan added that the Department of Social Welfare and Development similarly has a total of P83 billion unspent funds from the past two Bayanihan laws and previous budget allocations. This, despite at least 20,000 companies “crying for help.”

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