Middle class in MSMEs to receive COVID-19 aid – DOF

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 13)— Finance Secretary Carlos "Sonny" Dominguez III said Monday that selected members of the middle class— particularly those working for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME)— will receive assistance from the government's COVID-19 cash aid program.

This comes amid calls from some government officials to include the middle class sector in the crisis subsidy program.

"Those people working for MSMEs definitely will receive cash support... that part of the middle class, yes they will receive support," Dominguez told CNN Philippines' The Source.

The Finance chief noted that the government will allocate around ₱35 billion to ₱50 billion to support millions of affected employees in the MSME sector. He added more assistance programs will be launched to help employees of smaller companies.

However, Dominguez said the proposed financial assistance for all middle-class families looks to be doubtful "at this point in time."

The entire of Luzon as well as other regions in the country implemented enhanced community quarantine measures until the end of April, in an effort to curb the spread of the deadly disease. The directive, which limits movement of people, has left over a million Filipinos jobless.

The government's social amelioration program currently covers only the "poorest of the poor," with the low-income households expected to receive ₱5,000 to ₱8,000 worth of monthly assistance.

Cavite Governor Jonvic Remulla was the first to float the idea of including middle-class families in the government's emergency subsidy program. In a letter to President Rodrigo Duterte, Remulla cited how some of the families have already "depleted their savings" weeks since the imposed quarantine.

The chief executive agreed with Remulla's appeal, but noted that the government is working "double time" to cater to the needs of the middle class.

Dominguez, for his part, said the middle class, though without cash assistance, has already received help through the implementation of grace periods for various loan payments.