By JOHN CARLO M. CAHINHINAN
Albay Rep. Joey Salceda has introduced a P45-billion wage subsidy package which will benefit workers, small and medium enterprises, and even free lancers affected by the extended Luzon lockdown amid the country’s current heath crisis due to coronavirus pandemic.
Salceda, chair of the powerful House committee on ways and means said the new stimulus package proposal is set to benefit the country’s 5.8-million workers affected by the prolonged enhanced community quarantine (ECQ)—which include SME workers, sole entrepreneurs, and freelancers.
According to Salceda, he recently wrote President Rodrigo Duterte and recommended to start calibrating a wage subsidy program not only for SMEs, but as well as for those in the “gig economy.”
“A payroll support program will likely be necessary to support micro, small, and medium-enterprises (MSMEs) that will face liquidity issues in the wake of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), as well as their workers, who are at risk of being terminated if these MSMEs are unable to pay their wages and maintain operations,” said Salceda.
Salceda stressed since those people in the said sectors have average monthly earning of P9,500 per month, he suggested “a wage subsidy that covers around a quarter to a third of this amount” and “to be be distributed for three months.”
“The cost of supporting their income, at P2,500 to P3,000 per month for two months, is P44.85 to P53.82 billion,” said Salceda.
The Albay congressman suggested the said financial relief be distributed “via the Social Security System (SSS), assisted by the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) for formal economy workers.”
For freelancers, Salceda has proposed an open-application window similar to the COVID-19 Adjustment Measures Program (CAMP) of DOLE.”
“I’m also proposing that we couple the open-application process for freelancers with cost-free BIR and SSS registration. That way, they are able to see the full benefits of being accredited with the state, while also being able to contribute in future years when they are in better conditions. Kumbaga, bigyan kita ng tulong ngayon, para kapag nakaluwag-luwag ka na, makatulong ka rin sa iba,” he added.
By Salceda’s estimates, MSMEs employ around 4.1 million formal economy workers—basedfrom BIR data on small taxpayers.
He added that some 380,000 entrepreneurs belonged to the sole enterprises while about 1.5 million Filipinos are freelancers—according to the 2018 Global Freelancer Insights Report.