A BILL proposing loans and grants fo owners of small online businesses has ben filed in the House, with its proponent citing the industry’s central role in sustaining the lockdown economy.
Representative Jose Ma. Clemente S. Salceda of Albay, who chairs the House Ways and Means commiteee, said his House Bill No. 7698, the proposed Online Small Enterprise Support Services Act of 2020, also includes packages for training and registration assistance.
“It’s a comprehensive range of services designed to help Filipinos who have found employment in the digital economy. It’s a gift that we can find a sector where we can create jobs in the middle of an economic crisis,” Mr. Salceda said.
The bill sets the eligibility cutoff for small businesses at under P1 million in sales and provides access to loans from government banks, free credit reports and credit scores, and other benefits.
HB 7698 also proposes to service the registration of online enterprises by via a one-stop portal for all government applications, the “Online Negosyo Center”.
It tasks the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) to provide training programs on online entrepreneurship such as supply chain management, marketing, packaging, maintenance of online selling spaces, consumer relations, laws and regulations on online selling, among others. Grants will also be given to displaced workers and other sectors in need, upon completion of the TESDA training programs.
The bill supports online enterprises in rural communities by tasking the Agricultural Credit Policy Council (ACPC) to develop a credit facility for farmers and fisherfolk seeking to do business online. It also tasks the Department of Agriculture (DA) to help them find direct market access online.
Mr. Salceda said online selling has mitigated job losses during the pandemic.
Social Weather Stations estimates that around 27.3 million Filipinos rendered jobless by the pandemic.
“Small online businesses are the saviors of the COVID-19 economy. We would see far more unemployment and far more poverty if Filipino households did not turn to small online businesses,” Mr. Salceda said.
“Many online businesses have sprung up over the past few months because of COVID-19. Unfortunately, many of them are still unregistered. Instead of punishing them for simply trying to make a living, my approach is to make registration worth it. If you’re a small online business, you serve the economy, whether registered or not. But we will offer generous benefits if you register and pay taxes. It’s a fair and humane deal,”he added. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza