Release of gov’t subsidy for small business workers nearing completion — DOF

Robie de Guzman

MANILA, Philippines – Government payouts to workers of small businesses heavily affected by the coronavirus pandemic are nearing completion, the Department of Finance (DOF) said.

Finance Assistant Secretary and spokesperson Antonio Joselito Lambino II said that both tranches of the two-month Small Business Wage Subsidy (SBWS) are now at more than 97 percent completion.

“As of June 11, around a month after the application deadline, payouts for both tranches of the program are at a combined 97.4-percent completion rate,” Lambino said in a statement issued on Sunday.

“For the first tranche, 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 pick up from MLhuillier Kwarta Padala outlets,” he added.

Lambino said that around 40,000 remaining employees are still awaiting confirmation or requiring correction of their bank account numbers or cellphone numbers, for those who chose to receive their subsidy through PayMaya or Lhuillier.

For the second tranche, 2.96 million, or 97.4 percent of beneficiaries, have their SBWS ready for withdrawal or pickup, he added.

“This means that more than P44 billion-worth of subsidies for two months have been credited directly to the SBWS program’s intended beneficiaries in less than two months,” Lambino said.

“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 explained that, by design, the SBWS program is largely automated and digital, with manual processing kept to a minimum.

He said the government took advantage of available technologies, cloud computing, and the electronic databases of Social Security System (SSS) and the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) to quickly distribute the subsidy for millions of workers.

“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 P5,000 to 8,000 monthly for two months under this SBWS program, which is jointly implemented by the DOF, BIR and 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 community quarantine and other containment measures imposed by the national and local governments since mid-March to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease (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-CEO Aurora Ignacio and BIR Deputy Commissioner Arnel Guballa as members.

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