SUBSIDIES to state-owned firms surged 573% year on year in April after the Social Security System (SSS) received the funding for the small business wage subsidy program, the Bureau of the Treasury (BTr) said.

The national government extended subsidies to government-owned and -controlled corporations (GOCCs) worth P34.416 billion in April, up from P25.667 billion recorded in March and P5.115 billion in April 2019.

The SSS received 74% of the total, with subsidies of P25.5 billion in April. In the previous three months it received no budgetary support from the government.

The SSS is the main implementing agency of the government’s wage subsidy program for employees of small businesses.

As of Friday, the program has released P44 billion to fund two tranches of cash aid to 97% of qualified beneficiaries while the remaining recipients are still fulfilling some of their requirements before they can claim the financial assistance, according to the Finance department.

Meanwhile, the National Irrigation Administration received P4.74 billion worth of subsidies in April, up from P3.797 billion a year earlier and also higher than the nearly P3 billion it received in March.

The National Food Authority (NFA) received P2.82 billion while P555 million went to the Light Rail Transit Administration, against P5 million a year earlier. The NFA did not receive subsidies in April 2019.

In the four months to April, the national government released a total of P70.57 billion worth of subsidies.

In a viber message to reporters Saturday, Rosalia V. de Leon said the BTr released around P27 billion in early-June.

The budget allotted for subsidies to GOCCs this year was reduced by P5.1 billion to P191 billion as of May, from the initial P196 billion programmed as the government realigned the budget to fund its rising pandemic expenses.

The government subsidizes GOCCs to cover operational expenses not supported by their revenue. — Beatrice M. Laforga