MANILA, Philippines – The national government released P34.416 billion in subsidies to state-run corporations in April, with the bulk received by the Social Security System (SSS) to disburse wage subsidies for workers of small businesses displaced by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

The latest Bureau of the Treasury data showed that the subsidies distributed to government-owned and/or -controlled corporations (GOCCs) last April were the biggest monthly amount so far this year.

The state-run pension fund SSS, which had to distribute two months’ worth of salaries under the P51-billion small business wage subsidy program, got P25.5 billion in national government subsidy in April or half of the total intended SBWS disbursements.

After the SSS, the GOCCs that also received billions of peso in subsidies last April were the National Irrigation Administration (P4.741 billion), and the National Food Authority (P2.821 billion).

From January to April, GOCC subsidies totalled P70.57 billion, but there was no subsidy support to the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) during the first four months amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sought for comment, National Treasurer Rosalia V. de Leon said about P27 billion in subsidies were released to PhilHealth last week, making June the first month in 2020 that the agency received subsidy support from the national government.

Last month, Budget Secretary Wendel E. Avisado told senators that PhilHealth will get P71.3 billion in subsidies this year.

Last year, PhilHealth received P72.7 billion or 36 percent of total subsidies, the biggest among all GOCCs.

Since 2014, PhilHealth cornered the largest yearly subsidy among state-run corporations.

Besides subsidy, the national government also extended equity and net lending support to GOCCs.

But as allowed by the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) last April reduced the programmed budgetary support to GOCCs by P5.1 billion, such that subsidy and equity to be infused into state-run firms this year will be down to P190.9 billion instead of P195.9 billion originally in the 2020 national budget.

These budget cuts were instead reallocated into programs, activities and projects addressing the COVID-19 crisis.

Up to 90 percent of the subsidy that state-run firms receive were being spent on programs and projects, while the rest covered operational expenses, according to the Governance Commission for GOCCs.

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