The government can use the nearly P50-billion funding intended to help COVID-19 pandemic-hit micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) under the Bayanihan to Recover As One Act to subsidize the 13th month pay of workers in distressed companies, Senator Joel Villanueva said on Tuesday.
Villanueva, chairman of the Senate Committee on Labor and Employment, said he believes this is possible since under the Bayanihan 2, there is already a P39.47-billion allocation for government financial institutions to help cash-strapped businesses.
The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) had earlier reminded employers to pay their workers’ 13th month pay, despite the negative effects of COVID-19 to their businesses.
“I believe so (that the government can subsidize) we have to look at this particular issue very carefully. I told the DOLE (Department of Labor and Employment) not to toy or play with fire with the 13th month pay, because by law, our workers must receive their 13th month pay on or before December 24,” Villanueva said in an interview over ANC Headstart.
“Number 2, we also must not forget that our MSMEs are one of the hardest hit sectors by the pandemic,” he said.
He also pointed out there is a P10-billion allotment for small businesses under the Bayanihan 2.
“I’ve been calling on the DTI (Department of Trade and Industry) to facilitate these loans,” Villanueva said.
“I think with this pandemic, they can use the P10-billion ayuda, social amelioration package (SAP) for the 13th month pay,” he said.