SENATOR Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go commended concerned government agencies over the implementation of a small business wage subsidy (SBWS) program for small businesses in an effort to support the middle class and cushion the economy against the adverse effects of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) emergency.
“Nagpapasalamat po tayo sa ating finance agencies dahil dininig nila ang ating apela na suportahan ang mga MSMEs. Tulungan natin ang mga ito na buhayin ang kanilang negosyo dahil sila rin ang bubuhay sa ating ekonomiya lalo na kapag natapos na ang krisis na ito,” Go said.
“Hindi lamang po ito malaking tulong sa ating maliliit na negosyo, malaking tulong din po ito para maiahon ang kanilang mga empleyado na karamihan ay galing sa lower middle class,” he added.
During a televised meeting presided by President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday, April 13, concerned agencies noted that some small businesses were forced to stop operations while many are only able to operate with skeletal forces as a result of the enhanced community quarantine. This prompted the government to undertake measures, including the SBWS program, to help small businesses weather the impact of the health emergency.
The Department of Finance is setting guidelines that will determine which firms will be categorized as ‘small business’ eligible for the wage subsidy. The government will provide a wage subsidy of an amount between P5,000 to 8,000 per eligible worker of these businesses affected by the ECQ in Luzon and other parts of the country.
The program is set to benefit 3.4 million workers whose MSME employers will be identified and assessed through the Bureau of Internal Revenue and the Social Security System. DOF noted that workers of these small businesses belong to the low- to medium-middle class.
According to DOF, the subsidy will be for up to two months, unless the ECQ is lifted earlier, and will cost a total of P51 billion. Presently, an online system for business owners to submit the names of their eligible employees through the SSS website is being pilot-tested and could go live within the week.
To avoid duplication and to ensure that more Filipinos benefit from various government programs, Go said that the beneficiaries of the subsidy program for MSME employees must be different from the eighteen million poor families being assisted by the Department of Social Welfare and Development, and must not also overlap with those affected workers already being assisted by the Department of Labor and Employment.
“Huwag natin pabayaan ang iba pang mga apektadong Pilipino na nangangailangan rin ng tulong,” Go said earlier when he urged the DOF and other concerned agencies to immediately implement measures that would also help the middle class overcome this predicament.
Aside from the wage subsidy program, the government, through Republic Act No. 11459 or the “Bayanihan to Heal as One Act”, has also implemented measures to further aid small businesses, such as the granting of extensions on tax filing and payments, a minimum 30-day grace period on the payment of loans, and a minimum 30-day grace period in the payment of rentals.
Senator Go, who also sits as a member of the Joint Congressional Oversight Committee monitoring the progress of the implementation of the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, expressed the need for such additional support from the government, citing the important contributions of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises to the country’s economy.
“Importante ang suporta na ito para mapagaan ang pinapasan ng mga negosyo at ng mga empleyado nila. Kung gusto nating mas mabilis manumbalik ang sigla ng ating ekonomiya, mas mainam na ngayon pa lang ay tulungan na natin ang maliliit na negosyante na makabangon,” Go earlier said.
“Sisiguraduhin din natin na walang maiiwan na Pilipino. Lahat ng apektado ay tutulungan natin sa abot ng ating makakaya. Magbayanihan po tayo. Together, we can heal as one,” the Senator added.