This special edition of the OAS MSME Newsletter provides a first inventory of measures recently announced by OAS Member States to mitigate the
economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on small businesses and has as its objective to develop the resilience of micro, small and medium
enterprises (MSMEs). The policy responses vary from country to country and are specific to the economic circumstances and public health of each
Member State. Given that every day produces new developments, this first inventory is not in any way an exhaustive list.
MSMEs account for more than 95% of the production units in the Hemisphere and employ more than two thirds of all workers. The pandemic is
affecting the supply (such as the reduction in the number of workers due to closure and quarantines and the interruptions in the supply chain)
as well as the demand (loss of demand for their products and services). It is important to note that the small businesses in sectors such as
tourism and transportation have been significantly affected by COVID-19 and the measures taken to contain it.
Policy responses have taken different forms. Some countries have announced measures aimed at helping all businesses, while others are implementing
specific measures for MSMEs. Several OAS Member States have focused on financial instruments such as tax breaks, guarantees and grants. Several
commercial banks are offering credit and relief terms for the loan repayments.
In other regions of the world, some countries have suspended penalties for late payments of government contracts (France and Belgium), while other
countries have launched new mentoring programs for MSMEs (Australia), new instruments to help MSMEs to find new markets (Belgium) and digitization
programs (Korea) to help MSMEs to open their businesses online.
Antigua and Barbuda
Antigua Public Utilities Authority has agreed to cease all disconnections of water and electricity to households for a period of three months. During
the months of April, May and June, the cost of electricity will be reduced by 20 percent to households.
Banks are opening specific lines of credit to address the difficulties that companies must overcome due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on
labor dynamics and specific activities.
The Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation (BCCEC) believes the initial fiscal measures introduced by the government to support the Bahamian
workforce during the COVID-19 pandemic will assist in “bridging the gap”.
A $20-million “survival” stimulus package was announced by the Government of Barbados to provide critical assistance to thousands of people and businesses
in light of the expected calamity from the coronavirus crisis.
The Government announced, among other measures, the immediate establishment of a Household Survival Programme to help more 1,500 vulnerable families.
The Government of Barbados announced that, through the Barbados Bankers’ Association, there will be a six-month moratorium on all existing loans and mortgages
for persons and businesses directly affected by the virus.
The Barbados government has announced that 48 items will fall under the new COVID-19 basket of goods to ensure they are protected from price gouging or
shortages. The COVID-19 basket of goods represents “what the average householder would consume during this crisis”.
The Government has arrayed its plans for aid to the newly unemployed and the longer unemployed; commercial banking and credit union support to
business and the self-employed; and customer relief from utility providers.
Senate passes law that defers payment of credits, principal and interest until six months after the sanitary emergency is lifted. It also provides
for the forgiveness of 50% of the bills for basic services.
The Fundación de Apoyo a la Investigación del Estado de São Paulo (Fapesp) announced a call for proposals in the amount of R$ 30 million for research initiatives to combat the new coronavirus (SARS-Cov-2), which causes COVID- 19. The objective is to encourage micro and small companies to develop projects that result in technological innovations aimed at the diagnosis and treatment of patients.
Canada unveiled a sweeping emergency-aid package aimed at helping Canadian workers and businesses survive the severe economic downturn caused by
the new coronavirus pandemic.
The stimulus package – which includes $27-billion in emergency aid for workers and businesses and $55-billion in tax deferrals – will inject billions
of dollars into businesses to help with their cash flow and to keep workers on the payroll, even if they have been sent home, while bolstering federal
benefits and support programs for people who have lost their jobs.
Bank of Montreal and Export Development Canada announce financial relief measures for small- and medium-sized businesses.
One of Canada’s largest banks and the country’s export credit agency are rolling out targeted relief for small- and medium-sized businesses
amid mounting calls for help coping with the intensifying economic fallout from the new coronavirus.
Bank of Montreal is offering to increase operating lines of credit for small businesses and advance funds to help ensure employers can make
payroll. It is also promising to defer payments on loans, credit cards and credit lines for Canadian small businesses, while providing similar
“tailored relief” for larger commercial clients that could include access to extra working capital. Medium-sized businesses are being offered
one-on-one advice on options to maintain their liquidity.
Export Development Canada said it will support exporters by guaranteeing their bank loans up to $5-million, ensuring companies "can access more
cash immediately.” And for credit insurance customers, EDC will cover losses for goods shipped even if the buyer has not accepted them, subject
to some terms, and waive the waiting period for claims.
The Government of Canada response to COVID-19 includes support for workers, considerations for businesses navigating COVID-19 disruptions, an
Economic Response Plan, and guidance for federal employees.
Chile announces an economic emergency plan to face the effects of coronavirus in the country. The plan has three main focuses: job protection,
liquidity injection for companies and support for the most vulnerable Chileans. These measures include the anticipation of the tax refund that
corresponds to SMEs and the postponement until July 2020 of tax filing.
Also, for small and medium-sized companies, starting in April, the Government will pay all pending invoices.
ProChile, Chilean export promotion bureau, supports exporters during the Covid-19 pandemic. ProChile has been increasing efforts to support trade
between Chile and the United States amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
Government announces a package of measures to address the effects of Coronavirus on the Colombian economy. Individuals and companies that have
difficulties with their loans will be allowed to suspend the payment of two installments (two months), with the possibility of refinancing their
loans without affecting their credit history. Additionally, a line of credit will be offered in order to allow companies to pay their payroll,
and assure supplies to the country's municipalities and cities.
Government of Costa Rica proposes to establish a temporary tax suspension because of coronavirus.
A three-month suspension on the payment of value added tax (VAT), income from companies and customs arrears are some of the financial measures
that the Government in Costa Rica will adopt to provide relief to mitigate the negative economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
A significant reduction in the monetary policy rate in order to reduce the credits and insurance so that the tourist sector can face the quarries
by COVID-19 is also being considered.
The National Bank of Dominica Ltd. will offer the following financial relief programmes:
- Moratorium on principal and interest repayments for all interested loan customers for a period of up to six months.
- The waiver of late fees on all loans, and late and over limit fees on credit cards for six months commencing April 1, 2020.
- Business customers are encouraged to talk to the bank regarding cash flow support or other financial needs for businesses.
The Central Bank of the Dominican Republic (BCRD) will allocate RD $ 10 billion in loans to households, micro, small and medium-sized enterprises
and the trade sector with the aim of assisting the productive sectors and Dominican households facing the spread of COVID-19.
The Chamber of Small and Medium-sized Businesses in Pichincha (Capeipi) presented the President of Ecuador with a series of proposals to mitigate
the effects of the slowdown in economic activity with a view to avoiding the bankruptcy of small and medium-sized companies (SMEs).
Measures mentioned included commercial, financial and other proposals. Among them, promoting and strengthening the production and consumption of
Ecuadorian products, as well as guaranteeing the supply of domestic food demand for national products.
The Government of El Salvador approves resources to implement a “liquidity fund for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises affected by the emergency
to finance agricultural producers of basic grains and national coffee farming: for a subsidy program to pay employee payrolls that are affected by the
declaration of National Emergency and national quarantine and its effects."
The Government of Grenada announced a series of economic and other measures aimed at helping the island to limit the proliferation of the coronavirus (COVID-19).
The President of Guatemala presented the Economic Reactivation Plan to address the coronavirus crisis in the country. It is a plan whose main
objective is to preserve economic confidence to promote employment through investment incentives.
Republic Bank Guyana reduces interest rates and defers loan payments. In response to the anticipated impact as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic,
Republic Bank recognizes that there is a collective responsibility to ensure the sustainability of the business community, employees, and customers.
The government presented its social support plan. This is a program that is part of the social support plan implemented by the government, after
the health emergency declared in the country due to the spread of the coronavirus.
The Ministry of Commerce and Industry wants to fight the black market that aims to increase the prices of certain foods and even pharmaceuticals,
especially those destined for hand washing.
The President announces economic measures to support companies so that they will not lay off employees and close due to the emergency. Among the
economic measures that the government has announced is the readjustment of loan installments with the Honduran Bank for Production and Housing
(Banhprovi). Likewise, Crédito Solidario will support 5,000 entrepreneurs.
The Government has instituted a $5.9-billion COVID Allocation of Resources for Employees (CARE) programme to assist tourism businesses and workers during the emergency period caused by the coronavirus (COVID-19).
The Finance Minister outlines the Government's financial bailout package for thousands of Jamaican workers and small operators in tourism and related sectors who have taken a hit as a result of the downturn in activities because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Members of Jamaica’s small business and hotel sectors have reacted with relief to the government's announcement of an assistance package for some of
their members in response to the effects of the coronavirus - COVID-19.
Some financial institutions in their response to providing support for customers, especially those most affected by the impact of the novel coronavirus
(COVID-19), have will implement measures to cushion possible effects of the pandemic.
The President of Mexico will grant interest-free or low-rate loans to one million small businesses to counter the effects that the Covid-19 coronavirus
will have in the country.
As part of the economic containment plan for health contingencies due to the coronavirus pandemic in Mexico City, the local government will facilitate
50,000 microcredits for small businesses with a 0% interest rate, a 4-month grace period to pay and 2-year deposits.
The Nicaraguan Council of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (Conimipyme) proposed on March 23 to the Nicaraguan Government to control for three
months the prices of the basic food basket and of pharmaceutical and hygiene products linked to the prevention of the coronavirus pandemic. The
Nicaraguan financial system was also asked to reduce the interest rates on the loans and suspend payment on credit cards for two months.
In Panama, the National Government adopts measures aimed at strengthening the economic and financial capacities of companies and individuals. One of these
measures is the extension for an additional year of the tax exemption that applies to micro, small and medium-sized companies that are duly registered with
the Authority of Micro, Small and Medium-sized Companies (AMPYME). On the other hand, the deadlines for filing income tax reports will be extended.
Paraguayan Senate approves coronavirus emergency bill.
The Government of Peru announced that it will publish an emergency decree creating a business fund of up to 30 thousand soles to support micro, small
and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) that will suffer an economic impact due to measures to control COVID-19 in Peru.
Saint Kitts and Nevis
COVID-19: Government’s 17-Point Stimulus Package Includes Reducing Corporate and Business Tax. The government will reduce Corporate Income Tax and
Unincorporated Business Tax. There will be a reduction of the Corporate Income Tax rate from 33 percent to 25 percent for the period April to June
2020 for businesses that retain at least 75 percent of their employees. The government’s stimulus package also includes the postponement of the
payment of Property Tax from June to September 2020; the removal of Value Added Tax (VAT) and Import Duty for six months on hygiene items such as
hand sanitizers, hand sanitizer dispensing machines, disinfecting wipes, rubbing alcohol, gloves, masks and protective gowns, and the removal of
Import Duty and Customs Service Charge for six months on vegetables, fruits, fruit juices, cough and cold preparations and vitamins.
Saint Lucians will get a reprieve on their principal and interest payments for at least six months as the government seeks to respond to the coronavirus
crisis on the island.
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Prime Minister to outline the further plans his administration has for dealing with the impact of COVID-19 on St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
SRD 5 million has been promised to a provisional COVID-19-related budget for health services.
Trinidad and Tobago
Trinidad announces a series of measures to help ease the impact of coronavirus pandemic.
The Trinidad and Tobago government announced a multi-billion-dollar package to deal with the economic impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19).
U.S. Small Business Administration: Coronavirus (COVID-19) - Small Business Guidance & Loan Resources.
Los Angeles announced an emergency loan program to put $5,000 to $20,000 into the hands of owners within a few weeks if not sooner.
The $11-million loan fund is expected to serve 550 to 2,500 businesses, depending on the mix of applicants, which must have at least
one employee and in the retail sector can have as many as 500. The loans come with no to low interest and there is no application fee.
However, applicants must meet basic underwriting criteria.
The U.S. has approved a stimulus package. The law provides clear guidelines on what small businesses are eligible for.
The total funding available is $349 billion. The loans are federally-guaranteed (i.e. there is no interest on the loan), and tax-free. All
loan payments are deferred for one year.
Any business with less than 500 employees is eligible for the loan. All states and territories are eligible. Self-employed individuals,
independent contractors, and sole proprietors are also eligible.
Priority will be given to businesses in under-served and rural markets, including veterans and members of the military community, women,
socially and economically disadvantaged individuals, and businesses that are less than two years old.
In Uruguay, the funds of the National Guarantee System for the SIGA Pyme Program are increased, making it possible to grant more loans to SMEs. In addition,
70% of the commission charged by the guarantee system is waved.
To give liquidity to SMEs, the micro and small businesses affected by the health emergency will be added as beneficiaries for loans whose destination is
working capital. The interest rate that micro-finance institutions charge for credit to micro and small businesses will be subsidized.
CARICOM (Caribbean & Belize)
Sagicor Bank commits to assisting clients amidst COVID-19 outbreak.
Interamerican Development Bank (IDB)
The Inter-American Development Bank and IDB Invest have outlined their focus for deploying the financial and technical resources
made available to borrowing member countries and companies to address the crisis created by COVID-19, the disease caused by the
Based on extensive dialogue with the governments of member countries and technical analysis by Bank specialists, the IDB Group will
concentrate its support in four areas:
The Immediate Public Health Response; Safety Nets for Vulnerable Populations; Measures to protect the income of the most affected
populations; Economic Productivity and Employment; and Fiscal Policies for the Amelioration of Economic Impacts.
IDB to assist SMEs cope with fallout from COVID-19. The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) will facilitate access to remote working technologies
to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Latin America and the Caribbean as the region deals with the coronavirus (COVID-19).
IDB teams up with TransparentBusiness to facilitate remote access technologies for SMEs.
The World Bank Group Increases COVID-19 Response to $14 Billion To Help Sustain Economies and Protect Jobs. The measures include US$ 6 billion by
IFC to help provide a lifeline for micro, small and medium sized enterprises, which are more vulnerable to economic shocks.