P 158B to fund subsidy measures vs pandemic
MANILA, Philippines — The government has set aside over P158 billion to fund six emergency subsidy measures of various agencies for Filipinos badly affected by the new coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis.
President Rodrigo Duterte said the temporary measures seek to alleviate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, “and ensure the welfare of the Filipino people during said crisis.”
Luzon has been under an enhanced community quarantine since March 16 to contain the spread of the contagious disease, with strict restrictions imposed on travel and mass gatherings.
The lockdown has led to the temporary closure of many businesses and lost income for both businessmen and their employees.
In his 18-page report submitted to Congress on Monday, the President said the P158.066 billion was allocated for social amelioration programs under the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Department of Agriculture (DA), Department of Labor and Employment (Dole) and Department of Finance (DOF).
The biggest chunk went to the DSWD’s Aid to Individuals in Crisis Program at P100 billion for its first month of implementation.
The DSWD also distributed food and nonfood items to affected families, with a standby fund and stockpile of family food packs, food items and nonfood items worth P1.345 million.
This was followed by the DOF’s Small Business Wage Subsidy (SBWS) program for 3.4 million workers of small businesses, which has allocated P51 billion.
The SBWS will replace the Dole’s COVID-19 Adjustment Measures Program for workers in the formal sector. The CAMP received P1.6 billion in allocation, but the Dole said its funds were already depleted.
The Dole’s Tulong Panghanapbuhay para sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers was allocated P966.5 million, while its CAMP Abot-Kamay and Pagtulong for displaced overseas Filipino workers got P1.5 billion.
The DA’s financial subsidy for rice farmers was allocated P3 billion.
The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the DA also rolled out assistance programs and loans for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME), farmers and fisherfolk.
The DTI is using the P1 billion budget of its micro-financing program, the Pondo sa Pagbabago at Pag-asenso (P3), to cover the financial requirements of the COVID-19 P3-Enterprise Rehabilitation Fund to allow existing MSME borrowers to take out loans at a 0.5 percent monthly interest.
In addition, the DTI also allows loans ranging from P5,000 to P200,000 for micro-enterprises and P5,000 to P500,000 for small enterprises; a P500,000 special loan program for medium-sized enterprises; and a 30-day grace period for MSMEs’ commercial rent.
“The DA is implementing through its Expanded SURE Aid and Recovery Project, a zero-interest loan program for marginalized and small farmers and fisherfollks,” the report read. It is also available to agri-based enterprises.
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