House wants BBB fast-tracked to mitigate effects of COVID-19
Edu Punay (The Philippine Star) - February 27, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — House leaders yesterday called on the executive branch to expedite infrastructure projects to help cushion the impact of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) on the country’s tourism and economy.

Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano said the economic and infrastructure teams of the Duterte administration should now work double time to implement projects under the Build Build Build program as well as other government small, medium, and large-scale infrastructure projects.

“While the uncertainty of COVID-19 is there and while it is affecting international tourism, they should now release the funds and implement these infra projects,” he told reporters.

Cayetano said government projects could help absorb the possible temporary displacement in the tourism industry during this uncertain period given the threat of COVID-19.

“Those who would lose tourism-related jobs may be absorbed in construction jobs,” he said.

Cayetano stressed the importance of completing the projects during the summer season.

“When you do the construction in March, April and May, that’s the ideal season because you’ll be able to finish more projects. Also, when there are no health issues there’s traffic everywhere and that could worsen if you construct,” he argued.

Deputy Speaker and 1-Pacman Rep. Mikee Romero agreed with Cayetano’s proposition as he cited the need to come up with contingency measures to address the effects of COVID-19 to the economy.

“The DOT (Department of Tourism) already said that the local tourism industry stands to lose P42.9 billion from February to April and this concern necessitates urgent action from the government,” he said.

Romero said the situation provides an opportunity for the government to pump prime the economy by increasing its spending on infra projects during the first half of the year.

Romero, majority owner of AirAsia Philippines, recently led in responding to the national government’s call to boost local tourism and offered promos and fare discounts for local flights.

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