THE national government reached 2.1 million workers as of May 12 in releasing 64% of the funds for the first tranche of the Small Business Wage Subsidy program, the Department of Finance (DoF) said.

In a statement over the weekend, the DoF said the government released a total of P16.4 billion, against the program’s P25.5-billion budget for the first tranche.

The two-tranche program has a total budget of P51 billion to provide P5,000-P8,000 wage subsidies to employees of small businesses affected by the lockdown. The first batch of payouts was scheduled for release between April 30 and May 15, while the second tranche is scheduled for May 16-30.

Social Security System (SSS) President and CEO Aurora C. Ignacio said nearly 160,000 employers submitted applications for the program. The application deadline was May 8.

So far, applications covering 2.94 million employees were approved, accounting for 86% of the 3.4 million beneficiaries targeted.

The payouts were deposited directly to the employees’ bank or PayMaya accounts or sent via remittance centers.

SSS, the main implementing body for the program, said payouts can only be accessed until June 10 for those claiming through MLhuillier branches; subsidies unclaimed after June 10 will be forfeited. — Beatrice M. Laforga