P500 subsidy for workers needs DBM approval — Bello

BUDGET Secretary Benjamin Diokno.

THE government may recommend to Congress the enactment of a law providing for a P500 monthly subsidy to workers instead of an across-the-board wage increase, but it will still need the approval of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), said Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III in a press briefing in Malacanang on Thursday.

The DBM approval is needed because of the huge fund needed to give P500 to each of the estimated 42 million workers nationwide per month.

The proposed subsidy is contained in House Bill No. 6474 establishing a Labor Empowerment Assistance Program (LEAP) that the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) filed last September 26. Under the bill, the P500 monthly subsidy is in the form of a voucher and will cover four million minimum wage earners who are also members of the Social Security System. The subsidy is intended for workers’ food and basic services.

The Associated Labor Unions and TUCP sought the subsidy after the National Capital Region wage board approved only a P21 increase in the daily minimum wage last month. The labor groups were demanding P1,000 increase in the minimum wage to cope with the rising prices of basic commodities. WJG/CNC