THE Social Security System (SSS) has processed, paid out, or approved more than P50 billion worth of assistance to private sector workers while the country is battling the COVID-19 crisis.
SSS president and chief executive officer Aurora Ignacio said the state pension fund has distributed P45.55 billion cash assistance to financially troubled employees under the small business wage subsidy (SBWS) program over the past two months ending last June 28 and approved P5.4 billion in calamity loans assistance applications between June 15 to June 30, 2020.
Interviewed by the hosts of Laging Handa public briefing Wednesday, Ignacio clarified that the funds for SBWS came from a lump sum of more than P50 billion transferred by the national government to the SSS specifically for the subsidy payout.
“Just to avoid confusion, the SBWS came from the national government. Not one centavo of SSS fund was involved. We have already returned the remaining P5 billion to the Bureau of Treasury,” she said.
The subsidies were released in two tranches to employees of qualified small business wherein 101,685 workers were benefitted in the first month and 384,417 in the second month. There were more beneficiaries in the second tranche because it included workers who did not receive assistance from the Department of Labor and Employment’s COVID 19 Adjustment Measures Program (DOLE-CAMP).
“Out of the targeted 3.4 million private sector employees , we were able give out help to 91 percent from April, May, to June including those who were left out in the of the DOLE camp even if they applied to avail,“ Ignacio said.
Ignacio said the agency has likewise approved P5.4 billion in calamity assistance loan applications in just 16 days since the online window was opened.
“The calamity loan assistance program is an ongoing program that SSS make available to members in localized areas affected by calamities. But since the President the whole Philippines under a state of calamity, this program has been made available to all members in the country,” she explained.
Unlike the SBWS subsidy, the funds used in the loan assistance come from the SSS.
“Since we started accepting online applications in June 15 until June 30, we have received P346,375 successful applications equivalent to approved loans totaling P5.4 billion in just 16 days,” she said.
The loan assistance ranges from P11,500 up to P16,400 for qualified SSS members.
To qualify, a member must have paid a total of three years in SSS contributions with six contributions having been paid within the last 12 months before the submission of the loan application.
Any applicant whose contribution history does not comply with these guidelines will be rejected.
“We encourage members to make sure that their contribution must be uninterrupted so that they will have a better chance of qualifying,” Ignacio said.
The loan is subject to six percent interest and is payable in 27 months with the first three considered a grace period for payment moratorium.
“The member does not pay anything in the first 3 months and will start paying only on the fourth month after the application,” she added.