Ayuda to be taken from state firms’ excess dividends

Elijah Felice Rosales - The Philippine Star
Ayuda to be taken from state firmsâ excess dividends
Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III yesterday said the SAP to be distributed in areas under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) will be sourced from excess revenues of government-owned and controlled corporations.
STAR / Walter Bollozos, file

MANILA, Philippines — The government plans to get its financing for a new round of social amelioration program (SAP) or ayuda from excess dividends remitted by state-owned firms.

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III yesterday said the SAP to be distributed in areas under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) will be sourced from excess revenues of government-owned and controlled corporations (GOCCs).

“We were informed that the amount required is about P12 billion, and we have indicated that we have sufficient excess revenue to cover this,” Dominguez told reporters.

Dominguez said there is no need yet to realign funds to beef up the government’s war chest in the new lockdown in Metro Manila and other areas.

In a tweet, former socioeconomic planning secretary Ernesto Pernia called on the government to realign portions of the infrastructure program to bankroll the new round of SAP. He said the P4,000 per family that authorities plan to give out will only last for a week.

“Given the financial straits for ayuda needed during [the] upcoming two-week lockdown, some amounts should be repurposed from [the] budget for less urgent infrastructure projects,” Pernia said, stressing “P4,000 [is] adequate for only one week; household spending can also be [an] economic stimulus.”

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque Jr. on Tuesday said the government will spend P13 billion to give out cash subsidies to at least 10.7 million residents in Metro Manila.

Metro Manila will be placed under ECQ from Aug. 6 to 20 to contain the spread of the Delta variant. The government will roll out another round of SAP to cover the lost income to be incurred from closure of some business operations.

The National Economic and Development Authority estimates the economy will lose about P210 billion in the two-week return to lockdown. At least 444,000 workers will be unable to earn their livelihoods on the government’s directive to shut down business establishments, mostly service providers.

According to Roque, each beneficiary will receive at least P1,000 to a maximum of P4,000 per family.

400-K workers to get aid

Close to 400,000 workers likely to be affected by the ECQ are getting financial aid from the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).

Rolly Francia, DOLE’s Information and Publication Service director, said the distribution of cash will start as soon as the department receives notices from affected companies.

Francia said the DOLE has requested a P2-billion supplemental budget for the implementation of the COVID-19 Adjustment Measures Program (CAMP) to mitigate the impact of ECQ.

“About 398,000 workers are expected to benefit from the program,” Francia said during a virtual briefing yesterday.

To benefit from the program, Francia said, are minimum wage earners from the formal sector.

He said almost 40 percent or P776 million of the total budget will be allocated for the grant of cash aid to about 155,000 workers from the National Capital Region.

Workers from Central Luzon, Calabarzon, Western Visayas, Northern Mindanao and other areas under ECQ or modified ECQ shall also be getting financial aid.

While awaiting approval from the Department of Budget and Management, Francia said Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III has ordered the distribution of cash aid using funds under the DOLE’s Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers (TUPAD).

‘Use parked funds’

Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said yesterday the Department of Finance (DOF) should use billions of pesos in funds kept idle in the Philippine International Trading Corp. (PITC) to augment emergency financial assistance to the pandemic-hit poor.

As the government scrambles to find money for “ayuda” or cash grants, Drilon said it is highly possible that PITC “is still sitting on a pile of unused and unspent cash” that should have been returned long ago to the Bureau of Treasury (BTr).

“I urge the Department of Finance to include the PITC in its ‘cash sweep’ and immediately direct PITC to return any unused and unexpended funds in its possession so that it can be used to augment the budget for ayuda,” Drilon said.

The senator issued the statement after the Commission on Audit (COA) flagged the trading corporation for failure to return to the BTr or its source agencies unused funds amounting to P11.02 billion.

He said the amount can double the P1,000 to P4,000 ayuda that poor beneficiaries will receive to as much as P8,000.

Sen. Joel Villanueva, for his part, appealed to the government to utilize the P19-billion DOLE-managed employment assistance fund to finance the additional manpower to expand its contact tracing efforts as COVID cases steadily rise.

Villanueva said the TUPAD program can be used to deploy a “Delta Force” that will assist in tracing the contacts and travel histories of people found positive for COVID-19.

“The TUPAD program can be used to identify those who have come into contact with people infected with the virus, where they came from and where they can be infected,” said Villanueva, the chair of the Senate labor committee.

Sen. Imee Marcos meanwhile urged the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to put on hold price increases it granted manufacturers of basic necessities and prime commodities in July.

Marcos, who chairs the Senate committee on economic affairs, said that the three to five percent price hikes estimated by the DTI would be no small matter for daily wage earners unable to earn their keep when a two-week lockdown begins tomorrow to control the spread of the Delta variant.

“We need to help keep down costs for ordinary households because social welfare subsidies or ayuda are not limitless and their distribution will be staggered. Who knows the outcome of this new lockdown and how long wage earners will have to stop earning a living?” Marcos said. – Mayen Jaymalin, Paolo Romero, Cecille Suerte Felipe



  • Latest
  • Trending
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

or sign in with