Release of small business workers’ subsidies nearing completion

MANILA – Payouts are at more than 97-percent completion for both tranches of the two-month Small Business Wage Subsidy (SBWS) program for workers of small businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic, according to a ranking official of the Department of Finance (DOF).

DOF Assistant Secretary and spokesperson Antonio Joselito Lambino II said payouts for both tranches of the program are at a combined 97.4-percent completion rate as of June 11, around a month after the application deadline.

For the first tranche, Lambino said 3.05 million, or 98.8 percent of the 3.09 million qualified beneficiaries, have their SBWS ready for withdrawal from their bank or PayMaya accounts or for pickup from MLhuillier Kwarta Padala outlets.

“The remaining employees — around 40,000 — are awaiting confirmation or requiring correction of their bank account numbers or cellphone numbers (for those who chose to receive their subsidy through PayMaya or MLhuillier).

For the second tranche, 2.96 million, or 97.4 percent of beneficiaries, have their SBWS ready for withdrawal or pickup,” he added. Lambino said more than PHP44 billion worth of subsidies for two months have been credited directly to the SBWS program’s intended beneficiaries in less than two months. 

“What has allowed the government to quickly distribute the aid relatively smoothly was the use of automated processing and digital technologies in running the program,” he added.

Lambino further said that by design, the SBWS program is largely automated and digital, with manual processing kept to a minimum.  “Taking advantage of available technologies, cloud computing, and the electronic databases of SSS and BIR, the implementing agencies have been able to accurately target intended beneficiaries and quickly distribute the subsidy to millions of employees with zero face-to-face contact between the beneficiaries and government,” he said.

Each qualified worker is entitled to receive PHP5,000 to PHP8,000 monthly for two months under this SBWS program, which is jointly implemented by the Department of Finance (DOF), Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and the Social Security System (SSS). 

The SBWS supports qualified employees of small businesses who did not get paid for at least two months due to the work stoppages resulting from the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) and other containment measures imposed by the national and local governments since mid-March to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19). 

SBWS subsidies are either credited directly to the beneficiaries’ chosen banks or PayMaya e-wallet accounts or sent through cash remittance via MLhuillier Kwarta Padala. The SBWS interagency task force is chaired by the DOF, represented by Lambino, and with SSS president and chief executive officer Aurora Ignacio and BIR Deputy Commissioner Arnel Guballa as members. 

This SBWS is among a set of initiatives that comprise the largest social protection program in the history of the Philippines that the Duterte administration has rolled out in support of poor and low-income families, workers of small businesses, and other vulnerable sectors hardest hit by the Covid-19 pandemic’s economic fallout. 

These aid programs for Filipinos who have lost their income or means of livelihood due to the Covid-triggered containment measures are aligned with President Rodrigo Duterte’s priorities of saving lives and protecting communities amid this global health crisis. (PR)

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