Bello: Food subsidy can’t be rushed
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III agrees that workers should be granted a monthly food subsidy to help them cope with rising cost of goods, although he does not see the need to rush such a proposal, especially since the government would need about P20 billion to fund the appropriation.
Bello on Monday said his proposal to provide minimum wage earners a monthly subsidy of P200 over a three-year period was still pending in Malacañang, more than four months after he submitted it for President Rodrigo Duterte’s consideration.
“My assumption is that they are still studying it since [Finance] Secretary [Carlos] Dominguez said that it will cost the government around P20 billion,” Bello said.
In July, Bello suggested that the country’s 4 million minimum wage earners be given a P200 monthly subsidy, owing to rising prices of basic goods that was partly blamed on the government’s tax reform program.
The amount is lower than the P500 the Associated Labor Unions-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (ALU-TUCP) is asking for workers.
P9.8B in first year
Under Bello’s proposal, minimum wage earners will be given a total subsidy of P2,400 in the first year of the program’s implementation.
The subsidy, to be given in lump sum, will increase to P3,600 in the second year and to P4,800 in the third and final year.
This means that in the first year alone, the government will have to shell out P9.8 billion.
On Sunday, ALU-TUCP pressed the President to approve the food subsidy as the group described as inadequate the nationwide average minimum wage of P232, despite the adjustments provided by the National Wages and Productivity Commission.
Except for Caraga, every region has raised the daily minimum wage by P9 to P56. In Metro Manila, the new minimum wage of P537 is set to take effect on Nov. 22.
While the labor department knew that workers “deserve higher wage,” Bello said they also had to “address the capacity of employers to pay.”
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