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The first tranche of a two-month wage subsidy package has been credited to the accounts of more than 2.1 million qualified beneficiary-workers of the Small Business Wage Subsidy (SBWS) program, jointly implemented by the Department of Finance (DOF), Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), and the Social Security System (SSS).

The SBWS was designed to support qualified workers who were not able to receive their salaries for at least two weeks due to the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) and other containment measures imposed by the national and local governments since middle of March to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

A total of about PHP16.4 billion worth of subsidies were credited to the accounts of SBWS beneficiaries as of May 12, equivalent to PHP5,000 to PHP8,000 per qualified worker, depending on the minimum wage level in his or her region.  

SBWS subsidies are either credited to the beneficiaries’ bank or PayMaya accounts or sent through cash remittance via MLhuillier financial services.

This SBWS initiative is one of the intervention programs that the Duterte administration has rolled out in support of low-income families, workers of small businesses, and other vulnerable sectors that are hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic’s economic fallout.  

The SBWS interagency task force is chaired by the DOF, represented by Assistant Secretary Antonio Joselito Lambino II, and with SSS President-CEO Aurora Ignacio and BIR Deputy Commissioner Arnel Guballa as members. 

Lambino said MLhuillier Kwarta Padala, through the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP), is the partner-remittance center of the SSS in the disbursement of wage subsidies to unbanked beneficiaries.  

The task force decided to tap the DBP because of its experience in delivering subsidies via money remittance to beneficiaries of the Department of Agriculture’s Rice Farmers Financial Assistance (RFFA) program, many of whom do not have bank accounts. 

Meanwhile, Ignacio said “almost 160,000 employers submitted applications for the program as the applications ended on May 8, 2020.” 

“The SSS is currently processing them, but so far, the applications for around 2.94 million employees have been approved according to program criteria. This represents around 86 percent of the program’s target of 3.4 million small business employees,” she said. 

Payouts for the first tranche of the SBWS subsidies began on April 30, one day ahead of the announced May 1 to 15 schedule of release.  

Payouts for the second tranche are scheduled for May 16 to 31.

Article source: PNA

Image source: Freepik

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