Albay Rep. Jose Salceda said Monday the incoming administration would need around P326 billion in new revenues every year to cover both principal and interest payments due to debts incurred during the COVID-19 pandemic.
To achieve this, Salceda, chair of the House committee on ways and means, cited the need for Congress to enact new packages of tax policy reforms.
“Unless we can raise that kind of revenue, we will have to downscale our public spending or borrow again to pay the debt,” Salceda said in a statement.
Stressing the need for quick and effective fiscal measures, Salceda added: “The earlier the Marcos administration starts with a fiscal expansion program, the better it will be for investor confidence, our credit ratings, our debt overhang, and our future growth prospects.”
“You need money for the most important campaign promises: cheaper rice, more efficient government services, and improved agriculture.”
“So, I would suggest quick and effective fiscal measures being undertaken in the first hundred days.
Meanwhile, Salceda explained the debt service due to deficit spending from January 2020 to March 2022 would have been around P144 billion in principal payments over the next 20 years, and around P181 billion in interest payments.
He said: “That will of course vary per year, and some years will need lower debt than others.
“But if you want to stretch out the payment schedule, that’s the kind of fiscal space you need to cover the COVID-19 debts without incurring budget cuts.”
“And of course, the P326 billion figure relies on current interest rates. To keep them at this level, we need to show our creditors we are in good fiscal standing. So tax policy reform is really our best option.”
Recovered Omicron patients
All 14 patients regarding cases of the omicron BA.2.12.1 in the country have already recovered, the Department of Health said Monday.
All patients, two in Metro Manila—both local—and 12 in Puerto Princesa City, were fully vaccinated and were required to isolate for seven days, Health Secretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in an interview with ABS-CBN’s TeleRadyo.
In Puerto Princesa City, 11 were foreign travelers and one was a local individual.
Tourists in Puerto Princesa who contracted the subvariant had booster shots, Vergeire said.
The two cases in Metro Manila had also received an additional dose, the DOH earlier said.
There is no indication there is already local transmission of the Omicron subvariant BA.2.12.1 in the Philippines, although such remains “possible,” an infectious diseases expert said.
“As of now there’s no indication of local transmission—I mean, it’s possible, especially because of the high transmissibility of Omicron,” Dr. Edsel Salvana said at the Laging Handa briefing.
“But usually, for us to say that there is local transmission, especially sustained transmission, we look at the transmission chains to see if we can trace them,” he added.
‘No sustained increase’
There was no sustained increase in COVID-19 cases monitored a week after the 2022 national and local elections, the OCTA Research Group said.
At the Laging Handa public briefing, OCTA fellow Dr. Guido David said there had been small spikes of infections that eventually declined.
During the weekend, Malacañang announced Metro Manila and other areas would be under Alert Level 1 – the loosest form of COVID-19 restrictions – until the end of the month.
David favored maintaining Alert Level 1 in the National Capital Region and other areas as their group had not seen any threats so far despite the detection of Omicron subvariant BA.2.12.1.
According to David, the increase in COVID-19 cases could be considered significant only when the current number of daily cases grows double.