By Vanne Elaine Terrazola
Senator Joel Villanueva is pushing the grant of wage subsidies to workers in micro, small and medium (MSMEs) to help them cope with the extended quarantine period.
Villanueva asked the government to augment its assistance to displaced workers as he noted that current programs of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) might not cover all daily-wage earners or those in the “no work, no pay” sector.
The Senate labor committee chairman said 5.7 million laborers are employed in MSMEs, one of the sectors most affected by the COVID-19 crisis.
In his message to reporters Tuesday, Villanueva noted that the DOLE’s COVID-19 Adjustment Measures Program (CAMP) targets to cover only around 540,000 workers.
He said economic managers are looking at allocating some P35 billion for wage subsidies based on the data of the Social Security System.
But he said that according to his calculation for the wage subsidy for MSME workers based on 2018 list of establishments from the Philippine Statistics Authority, National Wages Productivity Commission and Department of Trade and Industry, the government would need at least P15.9 billion, if the subsidy covers 30 percent of their salaries, or a maximum of P53 billion if a 100-percent wage subsidy is applied.
Villanueva said he proposed to authorities to grant at least 30-50 percent wage subsidy to MSME workers. “But the rate of wage subsidy, which is a percentage of the applicable daily minimum wage, may increase if the quarantine period is extended,” he said.
The senator said the move will “not only help daily-wage workers and the no work, no pay sector but also to avoid increasing [number of] unemployed Pinoys.”
Meanwhile, he appealed to the DOLE to fast-track pending applications to CAMP for workers in the formal economy and TUPAD for workers in the informal sector.