Businesses seek stimulus measures from ARISE bill
Francis Lim
STAR/ File
Businesses seek stimulus measures from ARISE bill
Louella Desiderio (The Philippine Star) - August 7, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Business groups urged the government to implement stimulus measures  through the Accelerated Recovery and Investments Stimulus for the Economy (ARISE) bill or Bayanihan 2 to allow the economy to regain strength as it fell into recession amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

“A stimulus package like the ARISE that was endorsed by more than 40 local and foreign business groups, supported by five Cabinet secretaries and approved by more than 90 percent of the House membership is really needed for the economy to bounce back at the soonest possible time. We have been saving for the rainy days and now is the time to spend,” Management Association of the Philippines (MAP) president Francis Lim said yesterday.

ARISE seeks to help the economy get back on its feet through a P162-billion stimulus package.

Under the bill, the funds would be spent to implement an enhanced Build Build Build program to include projects on health care, education and food security.

There would also be funds for mass testing, wage subsidies, loans for micro, small and medium enterprises, as well as assistance for sectors hit hard by the health crisis such as tourism, transportation, manufacturing, and agriculture and fishery.

While the ARISE has been approved on third and final reading at the House of Representatives, the executive branch earlier said the government could not fund the proposed measure without new revenue sources.

Lim said funding for ARISE could be staggered and could be partly supported by borrowings which, under a Supreme Court decision, can be done.

“We should not also leave any stone unturned  to regain public confidence as our economy is principally driven by domestic consumption,” he said.

For his part, American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (AmCham) senior advisor John Forbes said the government should implement the Bayanihan 2 funds this year and front load the increased budget in 2021.

“We hope to stay in MGCQ (modified general community quarantine) and GCQ and no more lockdowns. Test faster, trace quicker and expand facilities to treat,” he said.

The Philippines slid into recession as the economy shrank 16.5 percent in the second quarter, its biggest contraction since 1981.

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