Labor group pushes P100 billion stimulus package for MSMEs

Commuters waiting for public transportation along Commonwealth Ave. in Quezon City while on General Community Quarantine (GCQ) with heightened and additional restriction due to Delta Covid Variant (August 2, 2021).
STAR/Boy Santos

MANILA, Philippines — To hasten the country’s economic recovery, organized labor yesterday pushed for the implementation of a P100-billion subsidy loan for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).

Federation of Free Workers (FFW) president Sonny Matula said the wage increase granted by different Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Boards (RTWPBs) for minimum wage earners is insufficient to boost the economy.

“This is not sufficient and that’s why government needs to help uplift the economy by launching a P100-billion or more stimulus package as subsidy/loan for MSMEs, and financial assistance to workers who lost their employment,” Matula said in a statement in Filipino.

Presidential adviser for entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion previously recommended that the next administration protect MSMEs, which he said are key to job creation.

He noted that MSMEs generate more than half of employment nationwide. Creating jobs, he stressed, would bring more inclusive growth than wage hikes.

Though the wage adjustments given to workers are late and insufficient, Matula said these are still being welcomed by labor groups.

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“These increases are insufficient for the needs of Filipino workers, however, it helps in relieving some concerns from lower purchasing power due to inflation, rising commuter costs, and rising prices of staple goods,” Matula explained.

Matula issued the statement after the RTWPB in Mimaropa approved a P35 increase in the daily minimum wage rate in the region. In Soccsksargen, the wage board granted a P32 pay hike.

For minimum wage earners in the National Capital Region, the wage board approved a P33 wage increase, and between P55 to P110 for workers in Western Visayas.

While lobbying for a legislated national minimum wage, FFW called on other RTWPBs to speedily grant wage increases for workers in their jurisdiction.

According to Matula, a law is needed to enforce a national minimum wage for easier enforcement and avoid discrimination.

Matula said FFW continues to encourage workers to engage in collective bargaining negotiations to push for wage adjustments.

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