‘Bayanihan 3 necessary to salvage economy’

Edu Punay - The Philippine Star
âBayanihan 3 necessary to salvage economyâ
House deputy minority leader Stella Quimbo specifically called for the passage of Bayanihan 3 bill or the proposed “Bayanihan to Rebuild as One Act,” designed to further jumpstart the economy from recession.
STAR / Ernie Penaredondo, file

MANILA, Philippines — The government should consider rolling out another economic stimulus package following the record 9.5-percent contraction in the country’s gross domestic product as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, an economist-lawmaker said yesterday.

House deputy minority leader Stella Quimbo specifically called for the passage of Bayanihan 3 bill or the proposed “Bayanihan to Rebuild as One Act,” designed to further jumpstart the economy from recession.

The Marikina congresswoman explained that the Bayanihan 1 and 2 laws and the other fiscal measures are not enough to rebuild the economy.

“Government’s plan on moving forward relies on five pieces of legislation that, unfortunately, are either insufficient in terms of magnitude or could be disproportionately benefitting larger firms than MSMEs,” she said. “These include Bayanihan 2, the 2020 and 2021 budgets, Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises (CREATE), Financial Institutions Strategic Transfer (FIST) and the Government Financial Institutions Unified Initiatives to Distressed Enterprises for Economic Recovery (GUIDE),” she added

“Bayanihan 2 authorizes a measly P165-billion spending. This is too small compared to the P3.2-trillion lost revenues due to the pandemic. I urge the economic managers to take a second look at the Bayanihan 3 bills pending in Congress,” Quimbo stressed.

She earlier filed her version of the Bayanihan 3 bill, which proposes a stimulus program worth P800 billion, half of which will be allotted for spending packages.

Another version of the bill was filed by Majority Leader Martin Romualdez, ways and means committee chair Joey Salceda and former economic affairs committee chair Sharon Garin, seeking a lower Bayanihan 3 fund of P247 billion.

House Bill No. 8059 seeks another P20 billion for procurement of additional vaccines, the creation of a vaccine committee and the implementation of measures to ensure the sufficiency of health supplies.

The measure also includes a P40-billion local government support fund for calamity response, P100 billion in health and resiliency related infrastructure programs, P10 billion in assistance programs for agriculture and fisheries, P7 billion for rent refinancing, P10 billion for companies to borrow for paying 13th month benefits, P10 billion for Tulong Para sa Displaced workers (TUPAD), P10 billion for the COVID Assistance Measures Program (CAMP), P10 billion for Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situation (AICS), P10 billion for the Medical Assistance for Indigents Program (MAIP), P5 billion each for TESDA and CHED and another P10 billion for DepEd programs.

“Prior to the pandemic, our government spending growth in 2019 was already at 8.7 percent. Now with the pandemic and with the worst economic recession, government spending growth in 2020 was only at 10.38 percent... Our spending is the lowest in the ASEAN,” she lamented.

The congresswoman urged economic managers to address risk aversion – seen as the main reason for the delayed economic recovery – through increased spending.

“Economic managers are correct: risk aversion is a problem and an obstacle towards economic recovery. But the elimination of risk aversion cannot be mandated. People are risk-averse because they lack confidence in our health sector capacity. The only way that risk aversion can be addressed is for government to increase its spending,” she added. Another economist-lawmaker, House ways and means committee chair and Albay Rep. Joey Salceda, agreed.

“We need to make sure we spend the 2021 budget and exhaust the 2020 budget completely this year. No toleration of delays in spending should be tolerated. I sternly warn implementing agencies that Congress will hold you accountable for the budget requests you submitted but cannot spend,” he stressed in a statement.

But for economic measures to be successful, Salceda said the government should first ensure and prioritize vaccination.

“The most important one is vaccine rollout. We need herd immunity before this year ends. There can be no ifs and buts here. I urge the government to support the Bayanihan sa Bakuna Act (House Bill No. 8285) because it will expedite procurement, rollout and administration of vaccines,” Salceda said. “No point in gradual reopening of the economy if we will not give people the confidence to go out,” he pointed out.


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