By Chino S. Leyco
The first tranche of a two-month wage subsidy package of the government has been credited to the accounts of more than two-million beneficiary-workers, the Department of Finance (DOF) said.
In a statement, Finance Assistant Secretary Antonio Joselito Lambino II said at least 2.1 million workers have already received aid under the Small Business Wage Subsidy (SBWS) program as of May 12.
Jointly implemented by the DOF, Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), and the Social Security System (SSS), the SBWS program has so far released ₱16.4 billion worth of subsidies to wage-earners affected by the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).
The credited amount to SBWS beneficiaries was equivalent to ₱5,000 to ₱8,000 per qualified worker, depending on the minimum wage level in his or her region and was either credited to the beneficiaries’ bank or PayMaya accounts or sent through cash remittance via MLhuillier Financial Services.
The SBWS initiative is one of the intervention programs the government rolled out in support of low-income families, workers of small businesses, and other vulnerable sectors that are hardest hit by the pandemic’s economic fallout.
The SBWS was designed to support qualified workers who were not able to receive their salaries for at least two weeks due to ECQ and other containment measures imposed by the national and local governments since mid-March.
Lambino said that MLhuillier Kwarta Padala, through the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP), is the partner-remittance center of the SSS in the disbursement of wage subsidies to unbanked beneficiaries.
As of May 8, 160,000 employers have applied for the SBWS program with SSS.
Aurora Ignacio, SSS president and chief executive said the pension fund so far approved 2.94 million employees, representing around 86 percent of the SBWS’ target of 3.4 million small business employees.
The national government is providing the wage subsidy to affected employees of small businesses to help mitigate the impact of the quarantine measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
This wage subsidy shall be given for up to two months so that affected small businesses are able to retain their employees during the quarantine period.
Under the SBWS measure, the government, through the SSS, shall provide a wage subsidy of ₱5,000 to ₱8,000 per month for each qualified worker, based on the minimum wage levels in the beneficiaries’ respective regions.