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No stimulus packages without revenue sources, says Palace

Alexis Romero - Philstar.com
No stimulus packages without revenue sources, says Palace
File photo shows presidential spokesperson Harry Roque.
The STAR / Joven Cagande

MANILA, Philippines — There can be no stimulus packages without revenue sources, Malacañang said Tuesday, after the House of Representatives passed a bill that seeks to allot P1.3 trillion to jumpstart the economy battered by the coronavirus pandemic.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque echoed the view of the finance department that there should be existing funding sources before a stimulus package can be implemented.

"I think the point of (Finance) Secretary (Carlos) Dominguez is all stimulus packages can be sourced from a supplemental budget. But we cannot have the budget without an additional source of revenue," Roque said at a press briefing.

"So the Department of Finance is just making sure that any stimulus package that will become law can be funded from existing sources, or at least the sources of funds have to be identified," he added.

Late last month, Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado said there is no basis to seek a supplemental budget because the country does not have new revenue sources or excess tax collections. Collections of the Bureau of Internal Revenue and the Bureau of Customs dropped in April as lockdown restrictions forced thousands of businesses to close shop. Their total collections totaled P527.41 billion in the first four months, lower by P179.37 billion than the amount collected in the same period last year.  

Earlier this week, the House of Representatives approved on final reading the proposed Accelerated Recover and Investments Stimulus for the Economy of the Philippines or ARISE Philippines Act, which seeks to promote economic activity and assist sectors affected by the pandemic. Supporters of the measure said the P1.3 trillion stimulus package would create infrastructure and jobs and help workers and small businesses.

Dominguez, however, said the government lacks excess revenues to finance the proposed stimulus package. He noted that the Constitution requires the certification of excess funds and new revenue sources to support the passage of any supplemental budget. The finance chief warned that the passage of new spending laws without funding sources could "jeopardize" the country's fiscal sustainability. 

At the same briefing, Roque said the distribution of the second tranche of aid for sectors sidelined by the pandemic may start next week.

"I was with (Social Welfare) Secretary (Rolando) Bautista in Clark and he told me by next week, they are ready to distribute. It will take them two days to distribute electronically and the rest with the assistance of the armed forces," he added. 

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