DOLE needs additional P9.4B cash aid to cover all workers affected by crisis

Aika Rey
DOLE needs additional P9.4B cash aid to cover all workers affected by crisis
The needs of private sector workers and OFWs requesting for government cash aid exceed the coronavirus response budget, the Philippine labor department says

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) will need an additional budget of P9.4 billion if it were to provide financial subsidy to all Filipino workers, both locally and abroad, affected by the coronavirus crisis. 

With hundreds of thousands of workers displaced or facing the risk of losing their jobs, the applications for cash aid have exceeded the current budget.

In a statement on Sunday, April 26, the labor department said it would request for a supplemental budget from Congress to address the deficiency in funding.

DOLE on Sunday said that some 230,000 overseas Filipino workers had requested for their P10,000 financial subsidy. However, it has allocated only P1.5 billion or good for 150,000 OFWs.

A total of 89,436 OFWs are either displaced or on a “no work, no pay” scheme due to coronavirus lockdowns, DOLE said, but at least 233,015 OFWs have applied for the cash aid.

The department earlier took back an advisory, where it said DOLE would stop accepting requests for cash aid, citing lack of funds.

Because of the surplus in requests, DOLE needs P830 million more to fund the program.

Job displacement in PH

Meanwhile, 345,865 private sector workers in the Philippines have received the P5,000 subsidy from DOLE, while 259,449 informal sector workers benefitted from the cash-for-work program of the government. DOLE has since stopped accepting applications for the program.

Reports from labor regional offices showed that the number of workers affected by the lockdown ballooned to 2,073,362 nationwide, twice the initial estimate of 1,048,649. More than 79,000 firms have been affected. 

If DOLE plans to provide aid to all the affected workers, it would need P8.6 billion in additional funding.

Of the 2 million total, 1.4 million workers were displaced due to temporary closures while more than 687,000 had reduced pay checks due to alternative work arrangements.

Metro Manila was the hardest hit, with at least 687,634 workers displaced. It was followed by Central Luzon (281,278), and Davao (207,789).

Earlier, Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado told Rappler that they already alloted “everything they can provide” to DOLE. A total of 6.3 billion has so far been disbursed to the agency.

Avisado recently signed a belt-tightening circular which cancelled non-essential government projects and activities. Despite this, he admitted that savings to be generated for the coronavirus war chest will not be enough and thus a supplemental budget has to be requested from Congress.

The coronavirus war chest is expected to be debt-ridden, as the Philippine economy was at a standstill due to lockdowns. (READ: Philippines braces for recession due to coronavirus) – Rappler.com

Aika Rey

Aika Rey is a business reporter for Rappler. She covered the Senate of the Philippines before fully diving into numbers and companies. Got tips? Find her on Twitter at @reyaika or shoot her an email at aika.rey@rappler.com.