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By JOHN CARLO M. CAHINHINAN

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian has prodded the national government to extend fresh capital and other financial assistance to budding online entrepreneurs, instead of slapping them with untimely new taxes.

Gatchalian, vice-chair of the Senate Committee on Economic Affairs, said online sellers should be covered by the microfinancing program under the Small Business Corporation (SB Corp.)—a Government-Owned and Controlled Corporation (GOCC) attached to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to assist them in growing their business to recover from the economic effects of the pandemic.

SB Corp., under the guidance of the DTI, has allotted a P1-billion Enterprise Rehabilitation Financing facility under the Pondo sa Pagbabago at Pag-asenso (Covid19 P3-ERF) to support micro and small businesses affected by the economic impact of Covid-19 in the country.

According to Gatchalian, SB Corp.’s microfinancing program offers a minimal interest rate of not more than 2.5 percent per month with no collateral requirement.

“Ang DTI ay dapat magbigay pa nga ng puhunan sa mga Pilipino na nawalan ng trabaho at gustong makaahon sa kahirapan sa pamamagitan ng pagnenegosyo sa online. Sa ganitong panahon ng pandemya, mas magandang nasa tahanan lang sila at nag-nenegosyo. Nabibigyan pa nila ng trabaho ang mga delivery service riders,” said Gatchalian.

He noted that micro enterprises with asset size of not more than P3 million may borrow P10,000 up to P200,000 while small enterprises with asset size of not more than P10 million may borrow a higher loan amount but will not exceed P500,000.

Gatchalian last week has openly criticized the Bureau of Internal Revenue’s (BIR) pronouncement of taxing online sellers, emphasizing that such move is ill-timed and insensitive.

Gatchalian stressed that before slapping the digital economy with a new round of taxes, the government should first “think of ways on how we are going to develop this industry in order to provide more jobs and opportunities to all Filipinos.”

“Hindi lang basta ayuda ang hinihingi ng mga negosyanteng ito. Ang hinihingi nila ay malaya silang bigyan ng oportunidad na makapag-negosyo para may kita sila,” he added.

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