By Charissa Luci-Atienza
Bagong Henerasyon Rep. Bernadette Herrera batted on Wednesday, April 8 for the implementation of a two-month wage subsidy program for those working at micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to grant them financial relief during the COVID-19 pandemic crisis.
She urged the government to look after the welfare of the MSMEs by implementing such program “to maintain an employment connection and ensure income” for MSMEs employees who are affected by the Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine.
“The idea behind this proposed wage subsidy program is to preserve jobs as we help MSMEs keep workers to their payroll amid the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Herrera said in a statement.
She explained that the subsidy to be given to the MSMEs workers for two months will be based on the prescribed minimum wage of workers by region.
“A payroll support for two months equivalent to the minimum wage by region is reasonable, but not for an extended period of time,” the House Deputy Majority Leader said.
Herrera said it is about time for the government to give back to the MSME sector for their significant contribution to the country’s economy.
The MSME accounts for 99.52 percent of established businesses and employs 63.19 percent of the nation’s workforce, she cited.
“We must understand that MSMEs generate most of the jobs for ordinary Filipinos and also they’ve got their share of GDP,” she said.
“And if only for the equity aspect of it, it will be critical to prop them up in difficult times, such as this ongoing coronavirus crisis,” she added.
Herrera said by implementing the subsidy program, the government is helping the small businesses to get back on their feet and easily resume normal operations when the pandemic crisis is over.
“This wage subsidy would be beneficial to MSMEs, such as shops in the malls, which are forced to temporarily close their businesses during this lockdown period but want to keep their workers so that they can quickly restart their businesses, thereby supporting a quick economic recovery,” she said.
“This puts in the hands of the workers the money they will use as consumers,” she added, noting that “other countries are experimenting with minimum basic income, precisely to ensure the viability of a consumer-oriented economy,” she added.
Herrera earlier proposed that MSMEs should be given tax breaks and a six-month moratorium on credit card payments and bank loans for a period of six months to revitalize their businesses, and avoid laying off of workers, and
to normalize their operations and save enough funds to start paying their loans.