MANILA – The government is now formulating additional programs for the informal sector to alleviate their situation amid the implementation of the enhanced community quarantine in Luzon and other areas that will last until April 12.
Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, in a Viber message, said the additional economic package is “in the works.”
He said the additional sustenance package for quarantine-affected workers will be determined by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the Department of Health (DOH) “in consultation with LGUs.”
This assistance, he said, “could result in a combination of providing food and/or cash subsidies for food, normal health care, and other necessities.”
Dominguez added that the subsidies will be extended even to people who are not beneficiaries of the conditional cash transfer program Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps).
This planned assistance program for the poor is on top of the PHP27.1 billion earlier announced by the Department of Finance (DOF) for the affected sectors.
Relatively, asked if the executive branch is amenable to the proposal of the Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines (FINEX) for an emergency calamity amelioration program Dominguez said: “Yes, we are.”
FINEX, in a statement, call on Congress to “immediately authorize, in an enabling measure, President Rodrigo Duterte, to realign unspent or unobligated appropriations already embodied in this year’s General Appropriations Act for emergency calamity amelioration, as the President may deem necessary and appropriate under the circumstances and during the pendency of this public health and economic emergency.”
It said the funds should be used as subsistence money for the poor and support for small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
On Sunday, Albay 2nd District Rep. Joey Salceda, during a Laging Handa PH briefing aired over PTV, said members of the House of Representatives will muster to have a quorum on Monday to discuss a proposal to extend to about 80 percent of Filipinos an PHP8,000 one-month subsidy to lessen the impact of work stoppage due to the quarantine period.
Priority persons for this program are vendors and tricycle and jeepney drivers as well as frontline workers, he said.
“We now need force preservation and the only way to preserve that is to incentivize their performance out there since they are the ones who face the enemy that have no face but only a name,” he said, referring to the coronavirus disease (Covid-19).
Salceda said “Congress, tomorrow, will approve, just one sentence — allowing the President to realign almost PHP275 billion” that will be given to those whose work were affected by the quarantine.
He said even the senior citizens “will be given nutritional supplements” under the proposed aid, which he dubbed as “Pantawid Quarantine.”
He said the government “has the capacity to do it (the additional incentives).”
Also in the pipeline is the loan program with negative interest rate to be extended to businesses that are affected by the quarantine, he said.
He said the structural reforms implemented by the current administration provides the government policy tools to extend this kind of loans to the businesses. (PNA)