Thursday, August 12, 2021

NAGKAISA to DOLE: What’s the plan for the P13B unutilized fund?

The Nagkaisa labor coalition on Wednesday has asked the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) of its plan on how to utilize its unobligated funds for cash aid programs under the Bayanihan law which the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) disclosed, still amount to P13 billion.

The labor coalition raised this question as the one-time payout for the measly P1,000 per head ayuda for ECQ3 starts rolling out in ECQ areas. 

“First, there is accountability issue on why DOLE kept this amount unutilized when months into the pandemic workers continue to face a scarcity of ayuda. The second issue is how will the agency make use of this huge amount given the obvious negligence and poor performance,” stated Nagkaisa Chair Sonny Matula. 

DOLE has requested for a P2-B additional funds for workers to be affected by the new lockdown.

But the DBM last week advised DOLE that before requesting for more cash to aid for workers who will be affected by the two-week lockdown, it should use its unutilized funds first. This P13-B, the DBM said, is part of the P18-B allotment for DOLE under the 2021 budget for the Tulong Panghanap-Buhay Para sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers (TUPAD), and other programs. 

Matulad said it is very disappointing to know how badly needed funds freeze in cold vaults amid the resounding cry for ayuda of thousands of displaced workers. 

“By their very concept, cash aid and funds for emergency employment are for emergency response. But this not the case in DOLE, and also in DOH. Unless someone has another plan of making these emergency funds a political investment for the upcoming elections,” said Matula, referring to the warnings made earlier by some senators that unutilized funds from the Bayanihan and the 2021 budget can be mobilized for electoral purposes.

The DOLE itself projects that number of workers in NCR who will be affected by the ECQ may reach 300,000-400,000. NEDA’s own estimate puts the number at 600,000. They are in addition to the more than 3.8 million unemployed in June

“Today these are the important numbers to consider and the most urgent concern to address,” concluded Matula.

Nagkaisa has been calling for income guarantee of P10,000 per month for displaced workers including OFWs, and employment guarantee of 100-day per year for the unemployed.

Labor Coalition
12 August 2021

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