Gov’t subsidies nearing last year’s record

Published November 2, 2020, 7:00 AM

by Chino S. Leyco

Monetary support to government companies is set to breach last year’s record by October driven by the Duterte administration’s coronavirus response, data from the Bureau of the Treasury revealed over the weekend.

Total subsidies to government-owned and -controlled corporations (GOCCs) reached P199.6 billion in January to September, shy by less than one percent against the P201.51 billion full-year record in 2019.

              The end-September subsidies to state firms rose by 27 percent compared with P157.07 billion in the same period last year.

Based on the Treasury report, the biggest recipient of government aid in the first three-quarters was the Social Security System (SSS) with P51 billion total subsidies.

The pension fund received these funds in two tranches—P25.5 billion each in April and May.

            But this sizeable amount was not for SSS operations. It can be noted that the pension fund was the implementing agency of the P51-billion Small Business Wage Subsidy (SBWS) program.

Launched in April, the SBWS program provided 3.1 million workers in the formal sector employed in micro, small and medium enterprises P5,000 to P8,000 wage subsidies for the month of April and May.

State-run National Food Authority (NFA) got the second largest allocation with total subsidies of P37.45 billion.

Earlier, the Department of Budget and Management explained that releases to the NFA included “the conversion of national government advances into subsidy” worth P30.7 billion in June.

The scandal-ridden Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) was also getting the biggest budgetary support in January to September.

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the government disbursed P30.45 billion in subsidies to PhilHealth to fulfill its mandate as the main implementing agency of the universal health care law.

Based on the Treasury data, PhilHealth received P26.17 billion and P4.13 billion worth of subsidies in June and July, respectively. The agency also got P146 million from the government in September.

The National Irrigation Administration, the National Housing Authority and the National Electrification Administration, likewise, received P24.97 billion, P17.7 billion and P11.42 billion from the government at end-September, respectively.

The Light Rail Transit Authority, on the other hand, was allocated P11.15 billion in subsidies.

Other billion-peso recipients of government financial aid were the National Power Corp. (P1.69 billion), Philippine Crop Insurance Corp. (P1.67 billion), Small Business Administration (P15 billon), Bases Conversion and Development Authority (P1.49 billion) and Philippine Hearth Center (P1.07 billion).

In September alone, the national government disbursed P7.15 billion in subsides, down by 88 percent compared with P60.27 billion in the same month last year.