By Chino Leyco
The Duterte administration will provide incentives to small business owners who are compliant with government tax and social security rules by prioritizing them in its wage subsidy program, the Department of Finance (DOF) said yesterday.
Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III said that the national government is providing a P5,000 to P8,000 wage subsidy to each of the estimated 2.6 million registered employees of small businesses adversely affected by the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) measures.
The DOF earmarked P50.8 billion for the small business wage subsidy (SBWS).
Dominguez the initial phase of the wage subsidy is only for employers who are compliant with the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and Social Security System (SSS) regulations.
The finance chief said that BIR- and SSS-registered business owners have been prioritized because they can be easily identified and automatically processed for coverage, if eligible.
Under the small business wage subsidy program (SBWS), the aid will range from P5,000 to P8,000 per beneficiary and for two months.
Small businesses are defined as those not belonging to the top 2,745 large taxpayers list of the BIR.
Dominguez said the details, mechanics and eligibility criteria under the program will be announced this week.
He urged small business owners to prepare their list of employees and submit via the SSS website, which is currently being pilot tested and is scheduled to go live later this week.
Dominguez also assured that the government would still support those employees coming from small companies that are not compliant with the BIR and SSS rules.
Dominguez said the government understands that the non-compliance may have been caused by inadvertent mistakes on the part of the employer. It is estimated that the non-compliant small businesses employ around 800,000 workers.
Aside from SBWS, the DOF is also studying the proposal to guarantee loans of small businesses affected by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic that will provide them easier access to bank financing.
According to the DOF, some 436,300 small businesses were forced to stop operations while around one million others are able to operate only with skeleton forces during the ECQ period from March 16 to April 30.
Only around 117,666 essential small businesses such as those involved in food service, logistics and some retail outlets like drugstores and supermarkets, have been allowed to operate since the ECQ was carried out.
To avoid duplication, beneficiaries of the COVID-19 Adjustment Measures Program (CAMP) of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) who have already received P5,000 will be eligible only for a one-month wage subsidy.