A total of P613 billion for the stimulus package that the government will use to restart the economy has been proposed by a subcommittee in the House of Representatives.
The sub-committee on the economic stimulus package prepared the Philippine Economic Recovery bill, a merger of the proposals submitted by Reps. Stella Quimbo of Marikina and Joey Salceda of Albay.
The sub-committee was tasked to study measures to address the adverse effects of the coronavirus pandemic on the economy.
The panel conducted two online hearings in which its members listened to the briefings of the administration’s economic managers, among them Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III and Bangko Sentral Gov. Benjamin Diokno on April 14 and 21.
The bill, “Philippine Economic Recovery Act,” will be submitted to the Defeat COVID-19 Committee for approval and referral to the chamber.
President Rodrigo Duterte may ask Congress to pass a supplemental budget to augment the funds for the government’s efforts against the coronavirus pandemic, Malacañang said Friday.
Duterte’s spokesman Harry Roque said the government needed authorization from Congress to tap more funds.
“We have funds, but the problem is we may have to enact a supplemental budget because we can’t spend the money without a mandate from our lawmakers,” Roque said in a radio interview.
But he expressed confidence the lawmakers will grant such a request from Malacañang.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III said Friday the upper chamber could take up a supplemental budget for COVID-19 funds that would be requested by the government when Congress resumes session on May 4.
But he was quick to ask what was the use of additional funding if the funds from the social amelioration program or SAP had not yet reached the families those had been intended for.
The government has been receiving mounting complaints from the intended beneficiaries that they have yet to receive the cash subsidy being distributed by the Department of Social Welfare and Development.
Senate President Vicente Sotto says the joint congressional panel will continue monitoring the SAP and the disbursement of the supplemental budget once granted.
P352.7 billion spent
The government has so far spent P352.7 billion to fight the coronavirus pandemic, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said Friday.
“We have already spent P352.7 billion for this COVID-19. This is unplanned,” Dominguez said in a taped briefing aired on state-run PTV-4.
He said the funds were taken from the P4.1-trillion national budget for 2020, from tax collections, from savings and from the borrowed money from multilateral agencies.
He made the remarks after President Duterte said the government was “running low on funds,” but he said the government still had enough funds—though the budget for COVID-19 was now getting limited.
The labor group Partido Ng Manggagawa said Friday the government should also extend financial and relief assistance to the millions of Filipino workers, including displaced overseas Filipino workers, following President Duterte’s announcement of another 15-day extension of the Enhanced Community Quarantine.
“Because ECQ has been extended, it follows that government aid must not only be extended but also expanded to cover all of the millions who are left behind by CAMP and SAC due to its non-universal approach and bureaucratic gridlock,” group chairman Rene Magtubo said.
He said the amount raised should approximate the level of the minimum wage, or P10,000, whichever was higher.