Manila Bulletin

DOF waiting for more DOLE data on subsidy for 13th month pay of MSEs – Malacañang

- By ARGYLL CYRUS B. GEDUCOS

Malacañang said the Department of Finance (DOF) is still waiting for more data from the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) before making a recommenda­tion if the government can subsidize the 13th-month pay of employees from micro and small enterprise­s (MSEs).

Presidenti­al spokesman Harry Roque made the statement after Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said last week that DOLE may need up to 113.7 billion to subsidize the 13th-month pay of MSE workers.

In his Monday presser, Roque said he was informed that the DOF is still studying the proposal.

“Pinag-aaralan pa po ‘yan. Before the press briefing, ang sagot po sa akin ng (They’re looking into it. Before the press briefing, I was told by) someone from DOF, they are awaiting more informatio­n from DOLE,” he said.

According to Roque, the go-signal should come from the DOF because nothing will happen even if Malacañang approves the proposal to subsidize the said mandatory benefit if there are no funds available.

“Ang mag-a-aksyon po diyan DOF. Kasi kung wala talaga tayong pagkukuhaa­n ng pondo, kahit aprubahan po ‘yan walang mangyayari (The DOF must be the to act on it. If we do not have the funds, nothing will happen even if we approve it),” he said.

“Siguro I will bridge para malaman na natin ang kasagutan. Yes kung yes, no kung no (Perhaps I will bridge so we can finally know the answer if it will be a yes or a no),” he added.

Bello said last week that there are 1.5 million workers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic while data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) shows that about 5.1 million workers were affected.

President Duterte is yet to approve the subsidy for MSE workers. However, if this pushes through, Bello said that mediumscal­e enterprise­s will not likely qualify for the said cash aid.

DOLE also released its guidelines on the payment of the 13th-month pay, saying it will not accept any request for exemption or deferment. It added that employers should give workers their 13th-month pay by December 24 this year.

Meanwhile, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III told distressed businesses that can’t afford to pay their employees’ 13th-month pay to avail of loans from banks.

Bello said the Bankers Associatio­n of the Philippine­s had earlier said it is open to offering loans for businesses heavily affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Siguro pwedeng umutang muna para may pambayad sila (Maybe they could borrow from banks so they could pay their employees’ 13th month),” Bello told DZMM Teleradyo in an interview.

Employees entitled to a 13th-month pay include those who have been working at a business or company not less than a month regardless of their employment status. (With a report from Noreen Jazul)

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