Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go reiterated his appeal to provide additional support for the middle class, particularly micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and their employees, affected by the coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) outbreak.
At the same time, Go echoed the sentiments of provincial governors over the need to provide a one-time “Bayanihan” financial assistance to provincial local government units (PLGUs).
Go has already recommended to the Executive a one-time grant equivalent to half of the province’s one-month Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) to further capacitate PLGUs.
Most MSMEs were forced to totally or partially close down due to the global health crisis and the extended enhanced community quarantine measures.
“Malaking parte ng bumubuhay sa ating ekonomiya ay ang mga MSMEs. Tulungan natin silang buhayin ang kanilang negosyo at maahon ang kanilang mga empleyado habang nasa panahon ng krisis ang buong bansa,” Go said.
Go said he has seen MSMEs struggle in keeping their businesses operational considering the adverse socio-economic impact of COVID-19.
“Mahirap kumita ngayon. Maraming napilitang magsara kaya hindi nila matustusan ang mga sweldo ng kanilang mga empleyado,” Go said.
Based on Go’s discussions with Department of Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, the government is now preparing a subsidy program to provide assistance to MSMEs and their employees. This program to be rolled out in the comint weeks will provide subsidies for about four million MSME employees.
This after President Rodrigo Duterte recently ordered the DOF to ensure that there will be available funds for other affected Filipino families, as most of the allocated budget are for programs prioritizing the “poorest of the poor.”
“Ang prayoridad natin ngayon ay mabigyan ng ayuda ang pinaka-mahihirap. Kung mayroon mang hindi maisama sa 18M families para sa emergency cash subsidy, mayroon ring ibang mga programa ang gobyerno na makakatulong sa iba pang mga apektadong mamamayan,” Go said.
“Huwag natin pabayaan ang iba pang mga apektadong Pilipino na nangangailangan rin ng tulong.”
To avoid duplication and to ensure that more Filipinos benefit from various government programs, Go said that the beneficiaries of the subsidy program for MSME employees must be different from the eighteen million families being assisted by programs under the Department of Social Welfare and Development.
Go likewsie shared that the Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines, the umbrella organization of all LGUs, through national president and Quirino Governor Dakila Carlo Cua, appealed for grants for PLGUs.
Go stressed that the additional funding, if granted, should be used exclusively for its intended purpose in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and as determined by the national government.
“Gamitin lang ng mabuti ang pondo pangtulong sa mga tao. Importante na malampasan natin ito ng sama-sama, walang pulitika, at walang pinipili ang tinutulungan,” he said.
“Dapat magtulungan ang LGUs at national government agencies, pati na rin ang private sector, para matapalan kung ano man ang magiging kulang sa mga kailangan ng taumbayan.”