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SENATORIAL candidate and former Vice President Jejomar C. Binay welcomed government moves to extend fuel subsidy and cash aid for sectors affected by rising fuel prices.

But the former vice president stressed the importance of ensuring the timely release of government aid to those who need it most.

“We have a possible crisis unfolding before us. By now, it should be clear from our experience with the pandemic that our authorities need to be proactive,” Binay said.

“Dapat ibigay agad ang ayuda sa mga tunay na nangangailangan,” he added.

Last month, Binay urged authorities to protect sectors severely affected by the pandemic from the possible negative economic effects of a prolonged conflict in Ukraine.

He had proposed the grant of fuel subsidies for public utility drivers, cash or food subsidies for the poor, and price ceilings on basic goods.

Binay said government should draw on the lessons from the distribution of cash aid under the Social Amelioration Program (SAP) at the height of the pandemic.

“Government should seriously consider releasing cash aid through digital cash transfers. This system not only minimizes crowding at distribution sites, but is more efficient,” he said.

The former vice president also described as timely the decision of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to tackle the issue of increasing the minimum wage in Metro Manila.

He added that concerns of Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) should be considered in discussing the issue of adjusting the minimum wage.

“Ngayon pa lang nagsisimulang bumangon mula sa epekto ng pandemya ang mga manggagawa at maliliit na negosyante. In tacking the issue of raising the minimum wage, the wage councils must be able to strike a balance,” he said.

Binay reiterated his proposal for government to extend wage subsidies for MSMEs.

“The wage subsidy can be in the form of a grant, with no obligation to repay. The amount could be given directly to workers, similar to what Makati extended to MSMEs in the city,” he said.

According to media reports, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) has released a total of P2.5 billion to the Department of Transportation (DOTr) as fuel subsidy for some 377,000 public utility drivers.

The DBM also released P500 million through the Department of Agriculture (DA) as fuel subsidy for farmers and fishermen. (TSJ)


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