About nine million microentrepreneurs nationwide have found debt relief during the monthlong lockdown of Luzon as the microfinance industry heeded calls to ease the burden on households most vulnerable to the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Microfinance institutions (MFIs) under the umbrella of the Microfinance Council of the Philippines (MCPI) and the Alliance of Philippine Partners in Enterprise Development (Append) suspended loan payment collection and waived penalties nationwide until April 12.
“As an industry, we acknowledge that the nine million microentrepreneurs of our collective agencies will face liquidity problems and difficulty recovering losses should the COVID-19 threat persist. We pray the loan moratorium will in some way ease their burdens,” Eduardo Jimenez, MCPI chair, and Append president Virginia Juan said in a joint statement.
“While we all are at risk in the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak, our microfinance clients are even more vulnerable. Their micro businesses are shuttered, their income sure to suffer, even their children’s education have come to a halt with little or no access to online education,” Jimenez added.
Due to the Luzon-wide lockdown, covered MFIs had to suspend client-training, medical mission, mass feeding and other community services. However, these MFIs vowed to continue monitoring the social and health needs of their client-beneficiaries and to the extent possible, try to extend assistance.
Despite the suspension of operations, these MFIs also committed to continue paying the salaries of their 50,000 personnel during the lockdown period.
MFIs have long played a vital role in social infrastructure for reaching the grassroots.They have also proven to be critical in postcrisis rehabilitation process as well as in generating economic and social data from the ground.
MCPI and Append are now working on an industry-level proposal to seek immediate and long-term support needed from the government.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.