The leadership of the House of Representatives and the President’s economic managers on Wednesday to agree on funding sources for the proposed Bayanihan 3 or the P405.6-billion COVID-19 relief package to aid struggling Filipinos and revive the country’s pandemic-ravaged economy.
Thus said Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda, chair of the House committee on ways and means, saying, “the concern is not current funding but fiscal sustainability. That is why we are trying to create new funding sources.”
Salceda said Congress proposes to finance the package using “new revenue streams.” “We already took into account that whatever existing sources there are must have already been used for the regular budget.
In fact, this is the premise of the proposed revenue sources in the package.”
The meeting on Wednesday, Salceda said, is intended for the legislators and the economic managers to agree on a specific amount.
“On May 12, the House leadership and the President’s economic team will meet again to iron out some differences in both the spending side and the revenue side,” Salceda said. “We will have to meet at some figure, but the responsibility of Congress is to present the needs of the people first, and then adjust our response based on the availability of new or existing funding.”
On the P5,000 to 10,000 assistance as provided in the bill, Salceda said this will be targeted, based on the poorest segments of the population.
“So, this is not universal. But there will be a universal basic income component to ensure nobody falls through the cracks. The P5-10k is a top-up. But we will have to see what the government can afford,” Salceda said.
He suggested that “Bayanihan 3 can be annuitized to some number of years, through gaming taxes on POGOs and e-sabong, for example.”
“We can get future revenue flows whose present value equivalent meets the need for Bayanihan 3. This is the strategy of the USD 2.2 trillion infrastructure plan of the Biden administration. They plan to pay for it with new revenues and closing tax loopholes, over time.”