BOTH the public and private sector expressed the need to provide wage subsidies for the labor force amid the ongoing pandemic to strengthen economic recovery.
Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez is hoping to roll out soon the proposed wage subsidy for private workers to aid the employees. The program aims to provide subsidy of P8,000 per month for a maximum of three months to struggling workers, to be given via the establishment’s payroll system.
The proposed program, which is under the P1.14-trillion National Employment Recovery Strategy (NERS), targets to benefit 1 million workers. The budget for the planned wage subsidy initiative is still under review.
“This [wage subsidy program] will support the recommendation of the business and labor sectors of the need for a wage subsidy program or income support for heavily-affected industries. This would also be a form of pump-priming the economy,” the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) chief said over the weekend.
PCCI backs call
Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) President Benedicto V. Yujuico also called for a wage subsidy program, noting that any government assistance is welcome, especially during these economic and health crises.
“The wage subsidy would provide some relief for busineRTsses in paying employees’ compensation and allow for some savings,” he explained.
Lopez said the proposed subsidy initiative will prioritize the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), giving more focus on those which are implemented or are currently under a flexible work arrangement. The program also targets MSMEs that temporarily closed but intend to resume operations.
The PCCI advocated the aid to the labor force to go hand in hand as well with the government facilitating easier access to financing.
“Government must consider financing local firms through the provision of low-interest or zero-interest loans, as well as purchase of zero-coupon bonds or zero-dividend preferred shares,” Yujuico said.
He added the government should also consider easing document requirements and services fees related to financing.
Under the NERS initiative, Lopez explained that the government extends support to establishments through low-interest loans, deferment of applicable fees and upgrading of processes.
The relief options, the DTI chief said, will help the country preserve jobs and encourage employment generation to boost the economic health of the country.
“Among the recommendations of the business sector include facilitating easier access to financing, and providing entrepreneurial education and business starting assistance, among others. From the labor sector, these include assisting startup businesses, improving financial literacy, and providing trainings on entrepreneurship,” he added.
Through Small Business Corp.’s Covid-19 Assistance to Restart Enterprises (CARES) program, DTI offers a lending facility for MSMEs severely affected by the lockdown protocols amid the pandemic.
Business, consumer confidence
To boost the economy, PCCI stressed the need to rebuild the business and consumer confidence.
The business group, for one, is encouraging the government and Filipino consumers to buy local. “Furthermore, local businesses should also be assisted in taking advantage of foreign market demands and maximizing export potentials through marketing and matching,” Yujuico said.
The PCCI chief called on the government to also ensure consultations with the private sectors in crafting policies and programs, noting that there should be “proper targeting” of beneficiaries of proposed assistance.
Yujuico said it would be helpful if the government consider waiving renewal of existing permits and licenses during pandemic, in addition to removing government transaction fees.
“There must be government mechanisms and support provided to address the rising costs of inputs and logistics, as well as a conduct of price reviews,” he added. The Philippine Competition Commission is currently investigating if there is price-fixing among industry players in the logistics sector that led to high freight rates.
Apart from these, the business sector renewed its call for speedy vaccination rollout, “harmonized and eased” mobility restriction and safe reopening of the economy.