âAllot P10 billion  tourism bail out for businessesâ
The proposed P10-billion funding for the entire tourism sector is with the DOT, headed by Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat, under the Senate version of Bayanihan 2. The funds have been allocated, however, to TIEZA in the House-approved version of the measure.
STAR/ File
‘Allot P10 billion tourism bail out for businesses’
Delon Porcalla (The Philippine Star) - August 14, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez has appealed to the senators and congressmen who will sit in the bicameral conference committee to iron out kinks in the Bayanihan 2 bill to retain the tourism industry’s P10-billion bailout fund.

The fund, he said, should be kept with the Department of Tourism (DOT) and not diverted or realigned to infrastructure, specifically with the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA).

“What is needed is not infrastructure by TIEZA but direct assistance to stakeholders in the tourism industry directly hit by COVID-19 such as the transportation sector specially air and sea, small resorts, hotels, travel agencies and their employees,” the chairman of the House committee on constitutional reforms said before the weekend.

He claimed that millions of employees of tourism-related establishments and small enterprises doing business with them, like their suppliers, have been without jobs and income since quarantine measures were imposed in March.

“It is these workers we need to give priority to in allocating public funds for the tourism sector, not to more road projects leading to faraway tourist destinations. Many of these projects do not have immediate economic impact, unlike direct assistance to tourism stakeholders and their employees,” Rodriguez argued.

The House of Representatives has designated nine lawmakers who will comprise the chamber’s contingent in the bicameral conference committee following Congress’ approval of the Bayanihan 2 bill (HB 6953).

They are Deputy Speakers Raneo Abu (Batangas), LRay Villafuerte (Camarines Sur) and Reps. Eric Go Yap (ACT-CIS), Stella Luz Alabastro-Quimbo (Marikina), Jonathan Sy Alvarado (Bulacan), Junie Cua (Quirino), Teddy Haresco (Aklan), Sharon Garin (AAMBIS-Owa) and Wilter Wee Palma II (Zamboanga-Sibugay).

The proposed P10-billion funding for the entire tourism sector is with the DOT, headed by Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat, under the Senate version of Bayanihan 2. The funds have been allocated, however, to TIEZA in the House-approved version of the measure.

Both Villafuerte and Alvarado believed that the infrastructure projects would benefit the tourism industry in the long run and provide establishments the opportunity to work on tourist sites often neglected and lacking in facilities.

Villafuerte claimed that every P1 spent on infrastructure would have a “multiplier effect of 3.5,” which means that the P10 billion for TIEZA under the House version of the Bayanihan 2 bill would “pump in around P35 billion into the tourism sector and economy.”

“First of all, dole outs to private firms are not allowed. These can only be done for workers, that’s why we have the TUPAD (Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers) of the Department of Labor and Employment, the funds for TESDA,” he said.

Alvarado, who sits as chairman of the House committee on good government and public accountability, said the fund “will unlock development in the industry by boosting infrastructure and providing establishments the opportunity to work on tourist sites often neglected and lacking in facilities such as access roads, restrooms and accommodation facilities.”

He said the House-approved version of Bayanihan 2 provides the mechanisms on how tourism enterprises can avail themselves of the credit facilities through government financial institutions.

Alvarado said the government should prioritize the development of tourism infrastructure now while there are fewer tourists in the country and when Filipinos in far-flung tourist areas need employment during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Meanwhile, the Tourism Congress of the Philippines (TCP) said the P10-billion allocation would address the urgent needs of the industry for it to survive.

In a Facebook post, the TCP argued that although the “funds may very well be added for tourism under the GAA (General Appropriations Act) or national budget, but that is for 2021.” – Catherine Talavera

RUFUS RODRIGUEZ
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