SBMA extends grace period for rents, business fees

Business locators in this Freeport received yet another relief from the effects of the Covid-19 lockdown when the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) extended the suspension of rentals and other payments due since the start of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in March. SBMA Chairman and Administrator Wilma T. Eisma said the SBMA Board of Directors passed a resolution on June 30 that gave a 119-day grace period for the collection of all due accounts, thereby moving the payment date for such collectiblesto October 28. The extended suspension period covered the March to September 2020 billings for lease rentals, common use services area fees, port charges, garbage collection fees, sublease shares, and gross revenue shares. Eisma said the measure took off from Memorandum Circular 20-29 of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), which provided for a minimum 30-day grace period for the cumulative amount of residential and commercial rents that fell due during the quarantine. “But to better assist the businesses here in Subic, the SBMA opted for a longer time when payments could be deferred to give the local businesses enough time to recover,” Eisma explained on Tuesday. “This is actually the third extension we granted since the ECQ was imposed last March,” Eisma pointed out. “There is really aneed to cushion the impact of the lockdown and provide economic relief to Subic stakeholders in support of RA 11469, or the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act,” she added. Under the approved measure, the SBMA management also allowed amortized payments of all the unpaid billings from March to September 2020 in six monthly installments, or from October 2020 to March 2021. Said billings will not earn any interest or penalty until March next year if the installment is completed, Eisma added. Those who will benefit from the payment grace period include business locators leasing lands, buildings and other infrastructure from the SBMA, and residents paying lease on a monthly basis. Eisma added that while sub-lessees are not covered by the suspension because only sub-lessors have contracts with the SBMA, the latter are encouraged to extend the same benefit to their tenants. The SBMA official also clarified, however, that the regular policy on credit and collection applies to billings issued prior to the March ECQ, although interest and other charges are waived for such billings for the period July 1 to October 27, 2020. Interests and other penalties will also be applied to installments that were not paid on time, and all unpaid bills by the end of the October 27 grace period will start earning interests, charges, and penalties the following day, Eisma added. According to SBMA Deputy Administrator for Finance Dea Sanqui, those who want to avail of the six-month installment scheme would have to apply by filling out a pro-forma promissory letter addressed to the SBMA chairman and administrator not later than September 30, 2020. Companies availing of the installment scheme should attach a Secretary’s Certificate authorizing the signatory of the promissory note. Application forms may be obtained by sending an email to accounting@sbma.com, treasury@sbma.com, or oda.finance@sbma.com or from the account offices assigned to companies registered in the Subic Bay Freeport. Sanqui said the SBMA Treasury Department will compute and determine the schedule of the six monthly installments and will notify the applicants before payment date.

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