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 yesterday.
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.
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.”
In his third weekly report to Congress as mandated by the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act (Republic Act 11469), Duterte said the Finance Department is also studying the proposal to grant small businesses a credit guarantee to provide them easy access to bank financing.
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.