DOF: Stimulus package for COVID-affected firms ‘not a priority’
Mary Grace Padin (The Philippine Star) - March 28, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The government is not yet prioritizing the provision of a tax breaks or stimulus package to firms and businesses adversely affected by the outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), according to the Department of Finance (DOF).

“That is not our priority at the moment,” Dominguez said during a video conference with reporters, when asked if the government will provide incentives to businesses affected by the pandemic.

“ We don’t even know what’s the point of giving tax credits and giving stimulus package now when you have no workers. What’s the point? The workers are in quarantine. We want them to be on quarantine so that the disease doesn’t spread. Let’s talk about that later,” he added.

The finance chief reiterated that the government currently has three objectives in addressing the COVID-19 situation in the country. These are to provide support to Filipinos who lost their livelihood amid the community quarantine, to protect frontliners during the fight against the disease, and to cushion any economic fallout that may result from the pandemic.

Earlier, 22 business organizations urged Congress to consider providing a stimulus package to help businesses, especially micro, small and medium enterprises, pay their workers while under quarantine, and to rehire and resume normal operations once the pandemic is under control.

They asked Congress to include this in the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, which grants President Duterte with special powers to address the coronavirus outbreak.

However, the law, which was signed by Duterte on Wednesday, did not include such provisions.

Earlier, the government’s Economic Development Cluster (EDC) unveiled a P27.1 billion program to help frontliners fight the COVID-19 pandemic, and provide economic relief to sectors affected by the spread of the disease.

Dominguez said other measures will be considered, together with the private sector, “as the effects of the contagion become more evident.

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