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DOF reminds SBWS beneficiaries of June 28 deadline to claim cash aid

The Department of Finance (DOF) on Friday reminded employees who were notified to claim their two-month cash grants under the Small Business Wage Subsidy (SBWS) Program through remittance outlets of the deadline to pick up their subsidies.

In a statement, Finance Assistant Secretary Antonio Lambino II said the deadline for claiming the SBWS payouts from MLhuillier branches has been extended to June 28, from the original cut-off date of June 10.

As of June 24, a total of 41,386 employees under the first tranche of the SBWS program and 56,978 employees for the second tranche have yet to claim their subsidies from MLhuillier, according to the DOF.

“We are calling on these employees who were already notified to claim their subsidies from MLhullier to pick them up on or before June 28. Wage subsidies unclaimed after the said date shall be forfeited and shall revert to the government for use in other programs to fight COVID-19,” Lambino said.

The Finance official represents the DOF in the SBWS inter-agency task force. The other members of the task force are Social Security System (SSS) president-CEO Aurora Ignacio and Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) Deputy Commissioner Arnel Guballa.

As of June 24, the government has completed 99% of the payouts for both tranches of the SBWS program, which has benefited a total of 3.1 million workers of small businesses affected by the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This means that more than P45.6 billion-worth of subsidies have been credited directly to more than 3 million beneficiaries in less than two months since the end of the application period in May 8,” Lambino said.

“What has allowed the government to quickly distribute the aid relatively smoothly was the use of automated processing and digital technologies in running the program,” he said.

The Finance official explained that, by design, the SBWS program is largely automated and digital, with manual processing kept to a minimum.

In the implementation of the program, the agencies took advantage of available technologies, cloud computing, and the electronic databases of the SSS and the BIR to accurately target intended beneficiaries and quickly distribute the subsidy to millions of employees with zero face-to-face contact between the beneficiaries and government, according to Lambino said.

He added that the Development Bank of Philippines (DBP), as the SBWS task force’s partner for payouts, has been instrumental in the distribution of the subsidy.

The assistance of the Bureau of the Treasury (BTr) in ensuring the timely transfer of funds was also critical in the success of the program.

Each qualified worker received P5,000 to 8,000 per month for two months under the SBWS program.

The SBWS supports qualified employees of small businesses who did not get paid for at least two weeks because of the work stoppages resulting from the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) and other containment measures imposed by the national and local governments since mid-March to prevent the spread of COVID-19. —LBG, GMA News