Gatchalian pushes for business loan program to curb joblessness amid pandemic

Robie de Guzman   •   July 8, 2020   •   333

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Sherwin Gatchalian on Wednesday called on the government to carry out a subsidy program that will help curb the rising unemployment rate in the country brought about by the ongoing novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

Gatchalian, the vice chairman of the Senate committee on economic affairs, suggested for the government to adopt a subsidy program similar to the Paycheck Protection program of the United States to prevent further lay-offs amid the public health crisis.

He said the Paycheck Protection Program is designed to provide incentive for small businesses to keep their workers on the payroll.

Under this setup, business owners can get full loan forgiveness as an incentive as long as the funds are used for eligible expenses.

This way, the company gets to retain its employees while maintaining its operations.

Gatchalian believes that if this program will be included in the proposed Bayanihan to Recover as One Act, dubbed as the Bayanihan Law 2, it will significantly help employees and companies.

“Marami talagang kumpanya na nagda-downsize at sigurado akong mas marami pa ang mawawalan ng trabaho. Tiyak babalik din sila sa gobyerno, sa LGU o sa national government. Hindi na yan kakayanin ng gobyerno. Babalik at babalik sila sa gobyerno para humingi ng suporta,” he said.

“A Paycheck Protection Program-like subsidy will hit two birds with one stone. You secure the tenure of employees and at the same time you generate the economic side,” he added.

The government has implemented the Small Business Wage Subsidy (SBWS) program, which provides a P5,000 to P8,000 wage subsidy to employees through the Social Security System (SSS).

But Gatchalian pointed out that this one-time subsidy does not provide long-term support to employees.

The senator said many Filipinos have lost their jobs after companies opted to downsize their operations to trim their losses as they weather the economic impact of the pandemic.

Citing a report from the Philippine Statistics Authority, Gatchalian noted that 7.3 million Filipinos are unemployed as of April 2020, an all-time high unemployment rate.

The lawmaker also warned of uncertain labor market recovery after a study by the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) revealed a 14% drop in global working hours during the second quarter of 2020, equivalent to the loss of 400 million full-time jobs, based on a 48-hour working week.

The same ILO study projects a decrease in working hours of 4.9% in the second half of the year which is equivalent to the loss of 140 million full-time jobs.

Gatchalian said there is a need for the government to prioritize the preservation of jobs in the country, and it will need an estimated P301 billion to create direct and indirect jobs for those impacted by the COVID-19-induced economic crisis for the rest of the year.

“The government has been calling for Filipinos to help spur the economy by spending more and taking advantage of record-low interest rates. But how can Juan dela Cruz think of spending his hard-earned cash during this crisis when he isn’t sure whether he’d be able to keep his job the following day,” he said.

That’s why I implore the government to prioritize the preservation of jobs of our kababayan so that they’ll be able to contribute in reviving our economy back,” he added.

India’s interior minister tests positive for coronavirus, hospitalised

UNTV News   •   August 3, 2020

India’s Interior Minister Amit Shah said on Sunday (August 2) that he had tested positive for coronavirus and had been admitted to hospital.

Amit Shah, a close aide to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and one of the country’s most powerful politicians, heads a key ministry that has been at the forefront of managing India’s coronavirus outbreak.

“I request all of you who came in contact with me in the last few days to isolate yourselves and get tested,” Shah said in a tweet.

India has 1,695,988 confirmed cases and 36,511 deaths due to coronavirus as of August 2, according to a Reuters tally. (Reuters)

(Production: Polly Rider, Michael Fiorentino)

All people should take precautions against COVID-19: WHO chief

UNTV News   •   July 31, 2020

Every age group should take the necessary precautions to protect themselves and others from being infected with COVID-19, stated the director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO) during a press conference on Thursday.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus also acknowledged that long-term care facilities are being hit hard by the coronavirus in many countries.

“In many countries, more than 40 percent of COVID-19-related deaths have been linked to long-term care facilities and up to 80 percent in some high-income countries,” said Tedros.

He stated that although seniors are vulnerable to COVID-19, young people face the same risk of being infected.

In some countries, the number of cases increased because young people relaxed their vigilance and didn’t follow precautionary measures.

“Young people are not invincible. Young people can be infected. Young people can die. And young people can transmit the virus to others. That’s why young people must take the same precautions to protect themselves and protect others as everyone else,” said Tedros.

As of 18:03 Central European Summer Time on Thursday, there have been 16,812,755 confirmed COVID-19 cases, including 662,095 deaths, reported the WHO. (Reuters)

Tokyo could declare new emergency if coronavirus worsens

UNTV News   •   July 31, 2020

Tokyo could declare a state of emergency if the coronavirus situation in the Japanese capital deteriorates further, its governor warned on Friday (July 31).

Yuriko Koike said Tokyo had confirmed 463 new cases on Friday – another single-day record – and implored residents to follow health guidelines to contain the spread of the virus.

“If the situation worsens, Tokyo would have to think about issuing its own state of emergency,” Koike told a news conference.

The Japanese government lifted the nationwide state of emergency in late May after Japan appeared to have contained the outbreak, touting its mask-wearing habits and health system as some of the factors that helped it fare better than Europe and the United States.

But the virus has made a worrying resurgence. The number of daily new cases in Japan hit a new record on Thursday (July 30), with infections spreading rapidly not only in Tokyo but also in other regions. (Reuters)

(Production: Akira Tomoshige, Hideto Sakai)

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