The city government of Makati is set to release a grant of PHP10,000 up to PHP100,000 worth of financial assistance to the businesses and entrepreneurs hard-hit by the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic in the city, Mayor Abigail Binay said on Monday.
Under the city’s PHP2.5-billion Makatizens economic relief program (MERP), Binay said the local government targets to assist some 78,000 businesses registered in Makati, as it revamps its business programs and pushes for economic recovery amid the health crisis.
“Makati-based businesses can get a grant of up to PHP100,000 depending on the number of Makatizens they employ,” Binay said in a Facebook live. “Hindi po ito utang, tulong ito sa mga negosyante ng Makati (This is not a loan [offer], this is an assistance to entrepreneurs),” she added.
Binay, meanwhile, said the local government will ensure that the process on how to apply for the grant will be easy, fast and there should be automatic approval.
“These initiatives are intended to support businesses and ensure a safe environment for Makatizen consumers,” she said. “We recognize the urgent need to help business owners recover in order to sustain their operations and retain their employees, which include city residents.”
Binay said recipients of the grant will not be required to pay back, provided that they comply with the city’s three conditions for the next two years.
“For the next two years, these businesses must continue to operate. Hindi po kayo pwedeng magsara dahil tutulungan po kayo ng city of Makati (You are not allowed to close down because the city government will help you),” she said.
These businesses should not lay off any of their Makatizens employees and should strictly comply with the city’s ordinances as well as the other safety guidelines, she added.
Through the Makati Assistance and Support to Businesses (MASB) Program, Binay said, the local government will provide financial aid ranging from PHP10,000 to PHP100,000 to registered businesses within the city.
The amount of grants they will receive depends on the type of business and the number of Makatizens they currently employ, she explained.
Binay said the grant could be used to pay for salaries of employees, both Makati, and non-Makati residents, or could be used as payment for supplies.
The city government will not release the cash assistance straight to the employers, she said but will be directly provided to the employees and to their Makati-based suppliers.
The grants include other programs such as setting the lowest possible tax rates for online sellers.
“We are declaring Makati as Philippine’s online business hub, I want to encourage 100 percent registration of online businesses in Makati,” Binay said.
Binay said she already endorsed an ordinance to the city council which targets to set the lowest local business tax rates for online sellers who don’t have physical stores.
“We will simplify the process and we will make it as contactless as possible,” she said, urging home-based enterprises to register their businesses to the city.
“This is your chance to grow your online business by allowing the city to help you. You should register, pay the lowest business tax, and be recognized as a legitimate business [entity so we can help you since you are registered],” Binay said.
Binay said the city government recognizes that restaurants and other food establishments cannot survive with very limited operating hours.
To cope with it, Makati introduced the measure to provide a “travel window” during curfew hours.
“It will allow Makatizens to patronize their favorite restaurants and other food establishments within the city to up to 10 p.m. and go back to their residence without violating the curfew,” she said.
Residents can avail of the travel window by showing a machine-generated BIR official receipt indicating that between 9 p.m. to 10 p.m. they were staying in the establishment, she said.
“Please take note, this only applies to Makati residents within city limits,” she said.
On the other hand, Binay said the city government intends to tie up with other stakeholders to provide pooled testing for employees of private businesses at a minimal cost.
“To enhance this program, the city government will provide subsidies in cooperation with other stakeholders so we can do pooled testing at minimal cost,” she said.
If the city gets enough support from the private sector, she added, the pooled testing could be given free of charge to the business.
The city government has earlier conducted Covid-19 pooled swab testing for 6,000 front-liners, public utility vehicle drivers, and market vendors.
“Our ultimate goal is to save businesses, retain jobs and keep the entrepreneurial spirit,” Binay said.
Binay urged the residents to continue to adhere to the government’s minimum health standards to prevent the local transmission and the spike of Covid-19 in Makati city. (PNA)