In the middle of the economic slump due to the pandemic, the provincial government considers opening an avenue for affected small businesses to access working capital to get the economy churning.

Gov. Art Yap proposed to the business community that the provincial government may avail of a loan from Land Bank of the Philippines or Development Bank of the Philippines and it would be passed on to small businesses who need the working capital.

The governor said he could negotiate for a zero-percent interest loan and a grace period of two years so that the payment of amortization would start on the third year yet.

Households are also encouraged to venture into home-based livelihood activities such as tailoring, food processing- -sausages, tapa, and other food products; handicrafts, souvenirs, repair and manufacturing bags, shoe repair; producing leather bags, eco bags, t-shirts, pillow cases, curtains, pants and clothes.

“What the provincial government can do is to help you make sure you can access this. I cannot promise you the way the national government is promising you. The national government has trillions. The provincial government does not have trillions. We have hundreds of millions,” the governor told members of the business community in a meeting last week.

This is in preparation for some changes in May when Bohol will gradually reopen some non-essential establishments which have been closed as of now in the light of the enhance community quarantine as a means to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

“If I can use that fund to help train, to help extend assistance, to lower interest cost just to get you going, then we will consider” reopening some businesses but with social distancing, wearing of facemasks and other preventive measures still in place, according to the governor.

“Come May, we might still be closed to domestic air and sea travelers. But ang pangutana, buot pasabot ba nga kinahanglang magpabiling nga sarado ang tanang sectors sa Bohol this May?” Yap said.

There might be some sectors that could already be allowed to operate again and if they need funding, the provincial government can assist for them to get back to business but the new norms should be observed.

The transport sector must still limit the number of passengers to accommodate.

“So, for me you are just going to answer- -how are you going to maintain your social distancing; how are you going to keep sanitation- -cleanliness and hygiene.What support do you need for you to maintain social distancing, for you to keep yourselves clean? What are you going to need? Because if you can do that, there’s no reason to keep you closed. We will open you,” Yap told members of the business community.

Yap said the provincial government wants to be able to give businesses a chance to operate again and be given a working capital at zero interest of their loans, because there too many unknown variables and factors and the loan interest would only add to the burden.

“Where are we going to get funds, gov? We will get it from the provincial government because every year, we get a share in the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA). And, because we are assured of IRA from the national government, we can borrow against them. Since every year, we get an IRA, I am fighting with the Department of Finance right now and the banks to give it to us at zero percent interest because there is no risk. Every year, we are given IRA, dili ba? So, what’s the risk to Land Bank? What’s the risk to DBP? If we don’t get my IRA, it means the Republic of the Philippines has ceased to exist. I don’t think the Republic of the Philippines will go under in the next two years. If our IRA is going to come out, you lend the money. We will lend it out properly. But at least I can give it to you, start ka, two years grace period. Start paying on the third year at zero interest,” Yap proposed.

On the other hand, the governor has already mobilized the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist to distribute seeds to the families in the towns, considering that many of the displaced workers had already returned to their towns and returned to farming.