MANILA- Workers of small businesses can receive cash aid from the government, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said Tuesday in response to the call of middle-income employees for help due to the coronavirus pandemic.
President Rodrigo Duterte has approved the proposal of the Department of Finance for a P51 billion "Small Businesses Wage Subsidy Program" that aims to provide 2 tranches of cash aid to employees of small businesses, Nograles said.
The system mirrors the financial assistance program of the Duterte administration for 18 million poor families wherein subsidies ranging from P5,000 to P8,000 are distributed for a period of 2 months based on the prevailing minimum wage in their respective areas.
For small businesses' workers, the cash aid will be distributed in 2 tranches from May 1 to 15, and from May 16 to 30, the Cabinet official said.
"Ang potential workers na makaka-benepisyo dito ay 3.4 million.
We shall be giving the same P5,000 to P,8000 na subsidy sa mga empleyado ng mga small businesses na ito," Nograles said in a virtual press briefing.
(Around 3.4 million workers are expected to benefit from this. We shall be giving the same P5,000 to P8,000 in subsidies to employees of small businesses.)
"Yun po yung ating program which the President approved last night for the middle-income wage earners natin," he said.
(This is the program for middle-income wage earners as approved by the President last night.)
WHO IS ELIGIBLE?
Nograles said the government will prioritize employees of small businesses that are registered with the Bureau of Internal Revenue, and Social Security System.
Workers of small businesses that have stopped operations due to the coronavirus lockdown, or were forced to apply a skeletal workforce are the most eligible for the financial assistance, Nograles said.
Employees of medium and large enterprises are excluded from the subsidy program, he said.
To avail of the cash aid, workers must be employed as of March 1, 2020, and have not received their pay for the said month. Workers who are on leave or are availing of the SSS unemployment benefits will not be covered by the subsidy program.
For workers who have availed of the one-time P5,000 cash aid from the Department of Labor and Employment, Nograles said they can still receive a subsidy but only for the second tranche.
Workers who will qualify for the cash subsidies can receive the aid via their SSS Unified Multi-Purpose ID cards that double as ATM cards, bank accounts, electronic wallets, and through remittance centers, Nograles said.
"Ang point natin dito ayaw natin mawalan ng trabaho yung empleyado. We want to retain the employment status of the employee," the Cabinet official said.
(We don't want workers to lose their jobs.)
The cash subsidy program for middle-income earners comes as the government extended the lockdown of Luzon to April 30, from the original end date of April 12.
The strict community quarantine, which required people to stay in their homes, has deprived daily wage earners of their livelihood.