Mall operators, property firms urged to extend rent relief to small businesses

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 15 2020 03:38 PM

The once crowded stalls are now divided into different clusters with a distance of 3 meters each inside the Greenhills Shopping Center in San Juan City on June 4, 2020. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News file photo

MANILA - The country’s largest business group on Thursday appealed to property firms to grant rent relief to small, medium and micro enterprises (MSMEs) due to the continuing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the economy. 

The Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) said MSMEs, which account for about 99 percent of all businesses and 66 percent of total employment, have been the most severely affected by the pandemic. 

PCCI president Benedicto Yujuico said MSMEs’ sales have plunged to their worst in decades, and many had to close down and cut jobs. 

“The persistence of low consumer confidence and limited public transportation and mobility is making it difficult for enterprises to recoup their operational costs to be able to pay the rent on top of the utilities and their workers,” Yujuico said.

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PCCI said malls and commercial buildings may work out a strategy that will not lead to the closure of their tenants.

“Lessors can give lower rent in exchange for a percentage of sales of their MSME tenants until such time that the situation normalizes and the tenants are able to meet their contractual obligations (fix rental),” Yujuico explained.

The group said supporting the needs of existing MSME tenants who can be viable again makes more sense than having vacant stalls or taking in new tenants that have yet to prove themselves.

PCCI said MSMEs needed to be helped back to health to ensure that jobs are protected.

“To be effective in alleviating the difficulties of our small enterprises and to sustain their recovery in the medium and long terms, we need a whole of society approach. It is in this regard that we are appealing to mall owners and commercial building landlords under the Bayanihan spirit as embodied by the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act,” Yujuico said.