MANILA -- The government should consider shouldering three quarters of the payroll of hard-hit small businesses to help them restart from the COVID-19 lockdown, the head of the Senate economic affairs committee said Thursday.
The government will need P63 billion monthly for the wage relief under Sen. Imee Marcos' proposed economic recovery bill. "I think we can afford it," she said.
"This is not the time for counting pennies... The economy can somehow be recovered, but lives cannot be recovered," she said.
Around 500,000 micro, small and medium businesses with 5 million workers will not be able to reopen after the coronavirus lockdown and that number is expected to rise, Marcos said.
Businesses with assets up to P3 million are classified as micro enterprises, while those worth between P3 million and P15 million are considered small. A business is medium-sized if it has P15 million to P100 million in assets.
Data from Google Philippines showed that 99.5 percent of enterprises in the country belong to the micro, small and medium category, employing about 63 percent of the total workforce.
The national government earlier approved a P51 billion "Small Businesses Wage Subsidy Program" that would grant 2 tranches of cash aid to those employed in small businesses.
The tourism sector should be prioritized in the proposed wage subsidy program, Marcos said, describing the industry as a "long-suffering sector."