SUBSIDIES PROVIDED to government-owned and -controlled corporations (GOCCs) rose 14.34% in 2020 to P230.418 billion, with close to half going to the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) and the Social Security System (SSS), which implemented a wage subsidy program designed to keep workers employed during the pandemic.

The subsidy totals were released by the Bureau of the Treasury over the weekend.

The overall subsidies exceeded the reduced P191-billion budget for the year by 53%.

In December, subsidies rose 68% to P42.561 billion.

Some P113 billion went to PhilHealth and the SSS, with the former receiving support for its increased coverage for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases and the pension fund implementing the wage subsidy program.

Subsidies to PhilHealth amounted to P62.397 billion, down 14% from a year earlier.

The SSS received P51 billion in budgetary support last year, as opposed to zero subsidies a year earlier.

The ramped up support for the state pension fund more than offset the reduced funding for GOCC subsidies last year, when the government diverted funding to support the pandemic containment effort.

The government subsidizes state-run firms to cover operational expenses not supported by their revenue.

The National Irrigation Administration received subsidies worth P33.677 billion, down 8%.

The Land Bank of the Philippines received P23.3 billion, down 24%.

Subsidies to the National Housing Authority rose 31% to P18.14 billion, while support given to the National Food Authority rose 50% to P10.522 billion.

Subsidies to the National Electrification Administration totaled P6.3 billion (up 29%), Light Rail Transit Administration P3.5 billion (down 5%) and Philippine Crop Insurance Corp. P3.164 billion (down 20%).

GOCCs receiving at least P1 billion in subsidies last year were the Bases Conversion Development Authority, National Power Corp., Philippine Children’s Medical Center, Philippine Fisheries Development Authority, Philippine Heart Center, Philippine National Railways and People’s Television Network, Inc.

The five state-owned firms at the bottom of the subsidy table were the Philippine Ports Authority (P3 million), Philippine Tax Academy (P18 million), Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (P31 million), Philippine Center for Economic Development (P34 million), and Zamboanga City Special Economic Zone Authority (P42 million).

This year, the government budgeted P148.188 billion for GOCC subsidies, down 22%. — Beatrice M. Laforga