DOF: 26.4-M Filipino families covered by gov’t subsidy programs amid COVID-19
MANILA, Philippines—As many as 85% of Filipino families are covered by the government’s subsidy programs enacted amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, according to the Department of Finance (DOF).
Around 26.4 million Filipino families from the country’s most vulnerable sectors will be receiving aid from the government’s subsidy programs amounting to P256 billion, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said in PTV’s public affairs program on Thursday night.
The subsidiaries are made up of some 18 million low-income households (around 75% of all Filipino families) from the informal sector, who survive mainly on the “no work, no pay” setup, and around 3.4 million workers from the formal industry, who are employed in small businesses.
Those from the informal sector will receive a total of P205 billion in cash grants under the social amelioration program while those from the formal sector are entitled to wage subsidies amounting to P51 billion.
The remaining 15% of families left out of the subsidy programs are those whose members are working for large businesses, particularly the country’s top 2,745 firms, or are working for the government, Dominguez noted.
Dominguez said the Small Business Wage Subsidy (SBWS) program, which was only launched on Thursday, was pushed because the government recognizes “that providing a lifeline to small businesses and their employees is critical to keeping the economy afloat.”
“Through this wage subsidy, we are now helping their employees, mostly from the lower middle class, meet their basic needs, like food and medicine. Second, and just as important, we are helping these employees keep their jobs. The Small Business Wage Subsidy is an integral part of a support package that we are rolling out for small businesses,” the Finance chief said.
In a release on Friday, the DOF stated that under the SBWS program, an eligible employee can only qualify for the cash grant if they meet the following requirements: be an employee of an eligible small business; employed and active as of March 1, 2020, but unable to work because of the ECQ; did not get paid by their employer for at least two weeks during the temporary closure or suspension of work in accordance with Labor Advisory No. 1, Series of 2020; can be of any contract status (e.g., regular, probationary, regular seasonal, project-based, fixed-term); and be certified by the employer in the application as having met all the above criteria.
The owners or operators of small businesses will be the ones to apply on behalf of the eligible workers, according to the DOF. The SSS website provides a step-by-step guide for applying for the SBWS. The application period will last from April 16 to 30.
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