Bacolod unveils MSME relief package

Bacolod Mayor Evelio Leonardia (standing), Tourism Officer Teresa Manalili, Vice Mayor El Cid Familiaran and Councilor Reneciyo Novero (lr) during the MSME Support Program launch Saturday at the Bacolod City Government Center*

Whether one is a large business, a small or medium-sized enterprise, fret no more.

Bacolod Mayor Evelio Leonardia on Saturday unveiled a comprehensive relief package for businesses affected by the health crisis during the last two years.

Those to be granted relief from payment of their business taxes covering fiscal years 2020 and 2021, include the thousands of micro, small and medium enterprises operating in the city, said Leonardia, who keynoted the MSME Support Program launching dubbed, “Ipadayon ang Negosyo kag Trabaho”, at the Bacolod City Government Center.

Travel operators and tourism stakeholders, cooperative cooperatives, taxi and jeepney operators, as well as sari-sari store, carinderia and restaurant owners, welcomed the good news.

Leonardia was joined by Vice Mayor El Cid Familiaran and Councilor Renecito Novero, chair of the Sangguniang Panlungsod Committtee on Trade and Industry, who mainly authored the ordinance establishing the Bacolod MSME Development Council ordinance.

ECONOMIC RECOVERY PLAN

The mayor said the launch of the support program for businesses came right on time as it is a major component of the LGU’s COVID exit plan, especially now that “we are under the new normal with the de-escalation of our status to Alert Level 1 .”

Bacolod, said, was already experiencing its fastest growth ever in 2019 with 25,627 registered businesses, or about 10,000 more than he Iloilo City, before the global crisis was declared.

Notably, he continued, about 95 percent of registered businesses in Bacolod belongs to the MSME category with each employing a high of 10 workers.

After we made analysis and assessment of the state of businesses at the height of the health crisis, Bacolod was very fortunate that only 8 percent was badly hit on the first year of the pandemic in 2020, and another 4 percent in 2021, or a total of 12 percent.

“Our expectations were higher. We were predicting the worse. We are happy that we managed the pandemic well with the success of our vaccination program,” he told MSME owner-attendees.

KEEPING THE ECONOMY AFLOAT

It is heart-warming to note, he continued, that the COVID statistics have been going down, adding that Bacolod has been ranked No. 1 in Western Visayas by the Department of Health with a highly-successful vaccination rate at 130 percent.

What was doubly rewarding for Bacolod, the mayor recounted, was the “Most Business-Friendly Highly-Urbanized City Award” given by the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the biggest and the most prestigious business organization in the country, in 2021, when The city was still in the middle of the COVID crisis.

Bacolod won a similar PCCI award in 2007, also under the watch of Leonardia.

The PCCI, in giving Bacolod the coveted recognition for the second time, cited among others, the LGU’s initiatives to keep the local economy afloat amidst the pandemic, as well as its innovative interventions in ramping up the vaccination campaign that also greatly benefited the business community by including the thousands of employees in the Business Process Outsourcing sector, those in the service industry like malls, hotels and restaurants, market vendors, drivers and students, health workers, law enforcement agencies, among others.

PARABLE OF THE LOST SHEEP

Despite the low rate of Bacolod-based businesses affected by the crisis, it is the policy of his administration to reach out to them and find out how the LGU can assist them to re-start their operations that is why he directed the city’s finance and economic clusters to gather the MSMEs.

The LGU’s initiative, he said, is similar to the parable of the lost sheep where the shepherd searched for the one missing from the rest of the herd to make sure that no one will be left behind.

“That is exactly our point here. No matter how small or big is the business or the person is, as long as he is one of us, we have to look for them, take care of them. That is the purpose why we are doing all these,” he pointed out.

INCENTIVE PACKAGE

Businesses with arrears in their mayor’s permit and other mandatory fees from their previous applications for renewal during the pandemic period, will be allowed to settle their dues on staggard or installment basis, City Treasurer Arlene Memoria explained.

This applies to enterprises with capitalization of P3 million and below, she said.

No business tax will be collected from them for 2022, provided that they register with the Department of Trade and Industry or the LGU under the Barangay Micro Business Enterprise (BAMBE) Law.

They are also encouraged to re-apply as new registrants for the current year, she said.

Those who already settled their 2022 business tax, on the other hand, do not have to pay them next year, again, as long as they complied with the BAMBE Law registration, she added.*

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