DOF chief cites importance of digitalization in aid disbursement

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Department of Finance (DOF) secretary Carlos Dominguez III on Tuesday, Aug. 25, highlighted the importance of digitalization in government processes to increase the efficiency in the delivery of government aid, among others.

Department of Finance secretary Carlos Dominguez III

During the presidential address aired over PTV 4, Dominguez said digitalization of transactions, distribution of aid through banks and e-wallets, and close administration of the critical steps of the program are the reasons for the success of the small business wage subsidy (SBWS) program.

“It is hard to do illicit things because it’s computerized. There is no cash to be handled. Nobody can keep the cash, so the intended beneficiaries — the employees of small companies – were able to receive subsidy,” he said.

The SBWS program extended P5,000 to P8,000 subsidy to employees of micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) which were greatly affected by the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).

This was implemented using the system of the Social Security System (SSS) and funds were disbursed directly to the bank or PayMaya accounts of the beneficiaries.

Dominguez said they disbursed about P41 billion worth of subsidies for the program. “We used the SSS system but SSS itself did not pay. The money came from the national government,” he said.

Dominguez said they learned three lessons from the program and the first is setting a timeline and milestone to determine what could and should be achieved at a particular time. He said the second lesson is to have regular meetings to update on the progress of the program.

For the SBWS, Dominguez said officials of the DOF, SSS, Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP), and the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) met two to three times daily to ensure that the system was working.

He said the last lesson that authorities learned from the SBWS implementation is tapping experts from the private sector to further improve the program. “Government does not know everything so we brought in people from the private sector,” he said, citing that experts from Microsoft and Union Bank of the Philippines (UnionBank), among others, were tapped for this program. 

Dominguez also highlighted the importance of management of the program, citing the need to be on top of the situation every day. “Do not let any problem go big because it’s hard to correct it if it’s already big,” he said.

Dominguez said they have incorporated these lessons in the proposed Bayanihan 2 Law. “As much as possible, all aid should be given through the banks, through Lhuillier (pawnshop) so no cash is handled, as little as cash as possible. So there will be no filching, nothing will be lost,” he added. — Joann Villanueva (PNA)

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