By CHINO S. LEYCO
The Department of Finance (DOF) assured that middle-class households involved in micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) will receive a cash support from the national government.
Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III
Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III said that around 3.5 million middle class individuals whose households rely on income from MSMEs will benefit from the government’s ₱35 billion subsidy earmarked for the sector.
He also disclosed that the government will announce today a program that should benefit both MSME employees and employers.
“We will announce a program to assist the employees of MSMEs by tomorrow , as well as to assist the MSMEs with a loan guarantee program. This will be aimed at what some people call the middle class,” the DOF chief said.
But Dominguez said that it remains uncertain at the moment whether the government can also afford provide a direct cash support to other middle class families outside the MSME sector.
“I doubt it at this point in time,” Dominguez said in a CNN Philippines interview when asked about his response to an appeal to include the middle class in the government's social amelioration program.
Dominguez, however, said that middle class groups coming from the formal sector or those with regular income sources are not totally left out by the government during enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) period.
He explained that the “Bayanihan Heal as One” law provided a relief on loan payments during the ECQ that primarily benefited middle class workers with outstanding credit card and housing loans.
According to Dominguez, the “Bayanihan Heal as One” act, also known as Republic Act 11469, has addressed the middle class concerns because it halted banks to impose fees and charges on loans.
“It is requiring banks not to collect loans immediately—by giving them a period to delay the payment of amortization, by not requiring the banks to charge an interest on interest. This covers also the payments for credit cards,” Dominguez said.
“These are the types that primarily for the middle class because it is the middle class that has the housing loans, it’s the middle class that has the credit card loans, etc. The middle class has been assisted in that section,” he added.
Earlier, Dominguez said the national government has to be prudent in its spending while ensuring all citizens and business sectors are weathering the coronavirus storm that is now wreaking havoc on the global economy.
Dominguez said that it remains uncertain when the Philippines will get through the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis, admitting that government funds also have limitations.