Rep. Bernadette Herrera Pushes For Wage Subsidy For MSMEs

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A party-list lawmaker on Wednesday proposed a wage subsidy for employees working at micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to help them cope with the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) crisis.

In a statement, Bagong Henerasyon Rep. Bernadette Herrera said the proposed wage subsidy program seeks payroll support for MSMEs for two months based on the prescribed minimum wage of workers by region as the enhanced community quarantine in Luzon is extended until April 30.

“The idea behind this proposed wage subsidy program is to preserve jobs as we help MSMEs keep workers to their payroll amid the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic,” Herrera said.

“We must understand that MSMEs generate most of the jobs for ordinary Filipinos and also they’ve got their share of GDP [gross domestic product]. And if only for the equity aspect of it, it will be critical to propping them up in difficult times, such as this ongoing coronavirus crisis,” she added.

She noted that a wage subsidy would not only prevent job losses but also help small businesses to easily resume normal operations following the crisis.

“This wage subsidy would be beneficial to MSMEs, such as shops in the malls, which are forced to temporarily close their businesses during this lockdown period but want to keep their workers so that they can quickly restart their businesses, thereby supporting a quick economic recovery,” Herrera said.

Aside from providing more fund allocations for them to borrow capitalization, Herrera said that MSMEs should also be given tax breaks so that their savings may be used as additional capital to revitalize their businesses and to avoid laying off of workers in the middle of the pandemic.

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said the government has a PHP205-billion program to be used for more than two months “to provide support for those in the informal sector, in addition to fully funding the needs of the health care sector.”

Dominguez said the funds would be reallocated for assistance to local governments, the MSMEs by subsidizing the salaries of their employees who are mostly what some would call lower middle class and support the Department of Agriculture/Department of Trade and Industry in enhancing food production and availability.

He noted that aside from the support to the middle class coursed through the MSME sector, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas and the Securities and Exchange Commission have also implemented such measures as the moratorium on the payment of loan and credit card amortizations, and prohibited the charging of compounded interest and penalties during the community quarantine. (PNA)

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