MANILA, Philippines – Middle-class workers severely affected by the lockdown imposed amid the coronavirus pandemic will receive wage subsidies from the government totaling P51 billion.
In a briefing held late Monday evening, April 13, Finance Undersecretary Karl Chua said the subsidies to be coursed through micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) will benefit around 3.4 million workers. (READ: What the Philippine economy could be like after coronavirus)
The government will select the beneficiaries from the master list of the Social Security System (SSS) and the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR).
Chua said 2.6 million workers in the BIR’s alpha list or those who have complied with BIR submissions will be the priority of the program. The remaining 800,000 workers who are presumed to be non-compliant will still receive help but will be the second priority. (READ: ‘Sariling diskarte’: The heavy impact of lockdown on micro, small businesses)
In a separate virtual briefing on Tuesday, April 14, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said workers will receive P5,000 to P8,000 for two months.
The first tranche will be released between May 1 and May 15, while the second tranche will be between May 16 and May 30.
Nograles said the program will cover workers of 1.6 million small businesses that have ceased to operate or are implementing a skeleton workforce due to the lockdown.
To receive the subsidy, the employee must:
- be employed as of March 1
- be unpaid by the employer since March 1
- not retrenched or let go by the employer or resigned
Workers who have already received P5,000 under the Department of Labor and Employment’s COVID-19 Adjustment Measures Program will only receive the second tranche.
Nograles said the funds will be deposited into the workers’ SSS-enrolled ATM, bank account provided by employers, or PayMaya, or be picked up at remittance transfer companies.
The government has yet to disclose the funding source for the program. – with reports from Sofia Tomacruz/Rappler.com