Micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) will have a monthlong grace period from having to pay their commercial rent, as the government tries to ease the burden of the lockdown on businesses.

The Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) has approved the proposal of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) for the grace period, according to Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez in a Viber message to reporters on Wednesday night.

The measure will buy some time for MSMEs, which comprise more than 99 percent of businesses in the country, as the economy struggles to cope with the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in Luzon.

“The IATF approved our proposal to grant a 30-day grace period [deferment] on the commercial rents falling due upon MSMEs, during the ECQ, with no interest penalties and fees and other charges,” Lopez said.

When asked to clarify matters, Lopez on Thursday said the amount that should have been spent for the month’s rent would instead be spread out in the rent for the next few months.

‘Spread the amount’

“The idea is to spread the amount for the next few months [six months],” he said.

“And we will still enjoin or encourage commercial lessors who would like to extend extra generosity to waive the one-month rental for MSMEs who were compelled to close due to the ECQ,” he added. The measure comes more than halfway into the lockdown, which would end midnight of April 12. Even before the lockdown, Lopez already said that stores inside malls would be closed during the quarantine, except for essential businesses, like groceries.

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