Small business aid program backed

THE House of Representatives is considering at least three strategies on how to help the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) recover and sustain business following the 45-day lockdown due to coronoavirus disease (COVID-19).

This is according to Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano as he expressed full support for the Small Business Wage Subsidy (SWBS) program.

The strategy is anchored on three components according to Cayetano, and these are effective Implementation of Small Business Wage Subsidy Program, passage of a Comprehensive Economic Stimulus Plan and adoption of Whole-of Society Approach maximizing the Filipino "bayanihan" spirit. 

He expressed confidence that the launching of the SWBS measure that caters to employees of small businesses to help mitigate the impact of the enhanced community quarantine, will provide immediate relief to about 3.4 million employees targeted by the program.

“We strongly support the SWBS program because it provides emergency support to small businesses and their affected employees at least for two months,” Cayetano said in a statement.

Under the SBWS measure, the government, through the Social Security System (SSS), shall provide a wage subsidy of between P5,000 to P8,000 (based on the regional minimum wage) per month per eligible employee.

“Yung immediate is for the workers ng micro, small and medium enterprises which will cost around P50 billion,” he explained.

Cayetano further explained that while the country is still in quarantine, there is a need to plan for the second phase of the strategy to stimulate the economy after the pandemic.

He said the House of Representatives Defeat COVID-19 Committee Technical Working Group is developing a comprehensive bill, which consolidates the proposals of the members of the subcommittee, experts and other Executive officials for the implementation of an urgent stimulus package to ensure that the small businesses will be able to recover faster, sustain their businesses and retain their employees after the outbreak.

The stimulus package, second component of the strategy, initiated by Congress will be an integrated and comprehensive targeting of the needs and each community and harness its strength.

Cayetano stressed that the lawmakers are crafting measures to provide solutions responsive to the problems and requirements of individual areas and communities. He cited the need to develop specific packages for agricultural, service or manufacturing industries to make it more effective and viable in the long run.

“The House works with the officials of the Executive Department, economic experts and business groups through the technical working group to step up efforts to find strategic solutions to ensure business continuity and job protection,” he stressed.

The Speaker also called on every Filipino to strengthen their “bayanihan” spirit and support for local MSMEs while government is working on different short term and medium term measures to cushion the effects of the pandemic.