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AMID COVID-19 CRISIS

Duterte approves wage subsidy for middle class workers


President Rodrigo Duterte has approved a wage subsidy program for middle class workers affected by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) crisis, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said Tuesday.

In a televised briefing, Nograles said the President on Monday approved the Small Business Relief Program to help some 1.6 million small businesses and their 3.4 million employees affected by the implementation of the enhanced community quarantine in Luzon and other areas of the country.

Under the program, eligible workers will be given a cash aid of P5,000 to P8,000 to be computed based on the minimum daily wage rates in their respective regions.

Nograles said the subsidy will be given in two tranches in May.

Eligible workers must be employed as of March 1 this year and have not received their pay for that month. Retrenched workers, those who resigned or are on leave and employees who have availed of unemployment benefits are not qualified for the program.

Those who have already received the P5,000 cash aid from the Department of Labor and Employment are qualified for the second round of release.

Nograles said the subsidy will be released to the bank accounts of the workers or via SSS Unified Multi-Purpose ID cards, electronic wallets and remittance centers.

Finance Undersecretary Karl Kendrick Chua told the President and some Cabinet officials on Monday that they will use the data from the Social Security System and the Bureau of Internal Revenue in order to identify the list of beneficiaries belonging to the micro, small and medium enterprises.

“'Yung 2.6 million na po ito ay nasa BIR Alphalist. Ibig sabihin, 'yung employers po ay nagko-comply with the BIR submissions. So 'yan po ang unang tutulungan natin,” Chua said.

“Pero 'yung .8 million workers, tutulungan din natin pero ang problema po 'yung employer nila hindi nagko-comply pero alam po natin. Tutulungan po natin pero second priority.”

Credit guarantee

The government will also grant small businesses a credit guarantee to provide them easy access to bank financing, according to presidential spokesperson Harry Roque.

Roque also said the government will implement the enhanced net operating loss carry over (NOLCO) for five years to allow firms more time to recover their losses due to the pandemic.

A P45-billion wage subsidy assistance to “employees of eligible businesses” is also being worked out by the Bureau of the Treasury and the SSS, but the President did not give details.

Around 40% of the country’s population belong to the middle income class, according to a 2018 study by government think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies.

It categorized the middle class as those who have a monthly family income of between P19,040 and P114,240 at 2017 prices.

Middle-class households mainly live in urban areas and in Greater Metro Manila with ease of access to various services and private establishments, the study said. — RSJ, GMA News