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Salceda urges Malacañang to stretch cash aid to middle-income households: P1,000 per head

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By JOHN CARLO M. CAHINHINAN

With the extension of the enhanced community countdown until the end of April, Albay Rep. Joey Salceda has urged Malacañang to further stretch government’ cash relief program for those affected by the ongoing Luzon lockdown amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Salceda made the remarks in response to appeals that President Rodrigo Duterte consider the middle class in providing financial aid to households affected by ECQ.

Salceda, chair of the powerful House committee on ways and means, cited the contribution of middle-income households to the country’s tax intake, saying that households in the 7th, 8th, and 9th deciles contributed some P44.4 billion in taxes—P29.4 billion were personal income taxes.

Following the President’s public address on Monday evening, the Albay solon has proposed another cash relief under the Universal Basic Income (UBI) approach—an income for all scheme to include the middle class individuals rangin between P1,000 to P2,000 for every citizen while under ECQ.

“Essentially, you distribute P1,000 to P2,000 per head,” said Salceda.

“Mas malawak po ang kayang maabot ng Universal Basic Income (UBI) approach. Including the middle class,” he added.

“All Filipinos except those in the top 10 percent” of the population each will receive between P1,000 to P2,000 worth of emergency assistance during the ECQ based on Salceda’s proposal.

“Bale ang eligibility lang po, basta Pilipino ka at hindi ka mayaman, makakatanggap ka ng tulong,” he said

“The said coverage would include the middle class. It will do away much of the convoluted eligibilities and make for faster distribution.”

The universal basic income approach was first recommended by Salceda in a letter to the Inter-Agency Task Force way back March 19.

In Salceda’s separate letter to Mr. Duterte dated March 25, the Albay solon said that a basic income approach would be advantageous “for ease of administration, ease of accountability, and to avoid arbitrariness in selecting eligible beneficiaries and sectors.”

“Two weeks ago po, nagsulat ako kay Pangulong Duterte ng plano para i-cover ang 90 percent ng population ng Pilipinas… I asked the President to consider a basic income approach to distributing the emergency subsidy,” said Salceda.

Salceda explained that the estimated cost of the BUI approach is at P200 billion, being projected for the emergency subsidy program.

“It may be cheaper. To cover 90 percent of the population would require P198.2 billion. To cover 80 percent would require P176.2 billion,” Salceda added.

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