House says COVID-19 committee now crafting bill to support small businesses
MANILA, Philippines – Leaders of the House of Representatives have assured the public that they are already crafting a bill that would eventually implement a stimulus package to support small businesses.
House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano said in a statement on Friday that the Defeat COVID-19 Committee’s Technical Working Group (TWG) is consolidating the proposals of the subcommittees, economic experts, and officials from the executive.
“The House works with the officials of the executive department, economic experts and business groups through the technical working group to step up efforts to find strategic solutions to ensure business continuity and job protection,” Cayetano said.
“Next Tuesday may second hearing tayo with the economic team and we’re inviting other economists including Central Bank Governor Ben Diokno. We’re also checking if the business groups would like to speak,” he added.
The Sub-Committee on Economic Stimulus and Response Package is co-headed by House committee on ways and means chair and Albay 2nd District Rep. Joey Salceda, AAMBIS OWA Rep. Sharon Garin, and Marikina 2nd District Rep. Stella Luz Quimbo.
According to Cayetano, there is a three-pronged approach in helping small businesses: first, through the wage subsidy program, the passage of the bill on the stimulus plan, and the adoption of a whole-of-society approach in helping each other.
The Small Business Wage Subsidy (SWBS) is currently being implemented, with the Social Security System handing out wage subsidies around P5,000 to P8,000, depending on the regional minimum wage in the area where the eligible employee lives.
“As we patronize the small businesses, we also help them retain jobs and boost local economy. We can all be part of the solutions and not part of the problem,” Cayetano said.
After the national government placed the entire Luzon and other areas under an enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), work — except for frontline services and those who can adopt a work-from-home scheme — was suspended. This has left workers who rely on daily wages without earnings throughout the lockdown.
However, small businesses whose products are not deemed necessary during the COVID-19 pandemic are also suffering from the lack of consumers.
This issue has raised suggestions on whether the national government should also provide social assistance to members of the middle class, instead of just the social amelioration program (SAP) for 18 million poor households.
Recently, the members of the TWG has held meetings, through video conferencing, to discuss measures that can address problems brought by the pandemic.
As of now, the Philippines has one of the highest COVID-19 cases and mortality rates in the Southeast Asia region, currently with 5,878 patients — 387 of which have died while at least 487 recovered from the disease.
Worldwide, over 2.15 million individuals have been infected, while 145,054 have died from the disease and 537,663 have recovered from it.
Edited by JPV
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