DBM nixes subsidy grant to minimum-wage earners

Published by reposted only Date posted on August 31, 2018

By Samuel P. Medenilla, Businessmirror – Aug 31, 2018

Government economic managers have officially thumbed down a proposal raised by the Department of Labor Employment (DOLE) to grant financial subsidy to minimum-wage earners.

National Wages and Productivity Commission (NWPC) Executive Director Maria Criselda R. Sy told the BusinessMirror that the Department of Budget of Management (DBM) had already rejected the proposal of the DOLE to extend aid to marginalized workers similar to the Unconditional Cash Transfer (UCT) program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

“DBM already gave its reply that the proposal could not be given due course until 2020 because the 30-percent revenue coming from TRAIN [Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion] is already allotted for the DSWD,” Sy said in an ambush interview at the sidelines of the DOLE’s budget hearing on Thursday at the House of Representatives.

Aside from the UCT, she said the DBM also noted the fund will also be used by the Department of Transportation for its gas subsidy for public-utility vehicles through its Pantawid Pasada cash card program.

The DOLE was pushing for an initial P200 monthly financial subsidy for minimum-wage earners this year. The amount was supposed to be increased gradually during the course of its implementation up to 2020.

The good news, Sy said, was that the DBM and the Department of Finance (DOF) are now in the process of finalizing the joint memorandum circular, which will provide unemployed and jobless workers with noncash benefits.

“The specific intervention includes training from the Tesda [Technical Education and Skills Development Authority] and discount from the NFA [National Food Authority],” Sy said.

Both benefits are expected to take effect once the concerned agencies issue the necessary implementing rules and regulations.

Sy said they already provided DBM and DOF the means to identify the beneficiaries of the said programs.

She said this is pursuant to the provision of Republic Act 10963, also known as the TRAIN law, requiring the government to provide social-benefit program for minimum-wage earners.

To complement these interventions, Sy said, several Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Boards (RTWPBs) have already raised the minimum-wage rates in their respective regions.

This includes the Cordillera Administrative Region, Regions 1, 3, 4A, 6, 7, 8, 9, 11, 12 and the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao.

“The amount [of the wage increase] range from a low of P8 to a high of P56. It aims to essentially restore the purchasing power of workers,” Sy said.

The labor official said the amounts approved by the RTWPBs are usually higher than the prevailing inflation rate in their areas.

Meanwhile, the RTWPBs in Regions 2, 4B, 5 and 10 are now in varying stages of consultation on the possible wage hike in their areas of jurisdiction.

The RTWPBs in the National Capital Region (NCR) and Caraga region are still not allowed to start their consultations since they have yet to celebrate the anniversary dates of their previous wages orders.

Sy added the RTWPB in NCR has already initiated a motu propio assessment of the socioeconomic condition in preparation for the end of its one-year ban in issuing a new wage hike on October 5, 2018.

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