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Swift economic measures sought as GDP contracts anew
Citing another gross domestic product (GDP) contraction of 4.2 percent in the first quarter of the year resulting from the pandemic, Velasco said government expenditure is the only immediate recourse to pump-prime the economy.
Miguel De Guzman

Swift economic measures sought as GDP contracts anew

Edu Punay (The Philippine Star) - May 13, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The government must come up with another relief package for Filipinos as part of swift expenditure measures to counter “a long economic downturn,” Speaker Lord Allan Velasco said yesterday.

Citing another gross domestic product (GDP) contraction of 4.2 percent in the first quarter of the year resulting from the pandemic, Velasco said government expenditure is the only immediate recourse to pump-prime the economy.

“The government needs to infuse a substantial amount into the economy by providing much-needed aid to individuals, businesses and communities severely affected by the health crisis,” he said.

The Marinduque congressmen said the House has already provided a viable option through the proposed Bayanihan to Arise as One Act or “Bayanihan 3” that seeks to provide a P2,000 “ayuda” or cash aid to all 110 million Filipinos.

He said Bayanihan 3 has a proposed fund of P405.6 billion to stimulate the nation’s recovery from the COVID-19 crisis.

The Speaker also cited the urgent need to address the slowdown in the construction industry, which is a major contributor in the decline of GDP at negative 24.2 percent, by swift implementation of the flagship “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure program of the Duterte administration.

“With private sector infrastructure at a standstill, the government should take the lead in reinvigorating our construction sector,” he said.

Velasco urged the Departments of Budget and Management and of Public Works and Highways to address delays in the implementation of government construction projects.

Economist-lawmaker Stella Quimbo of Marikina City echoed the Speaker’s suggestions, beginning with the passage of Bayanihan 3.

“I hope that when Congress resumes session next week, it will waste no time in passing Bayanihan 3. The budget for ayuda, including the two rounds of P1,000 for all Filipinos, will be key to economic recovery,” she said.

Quimbo, the deputy minority leader, said subsidies can also be given to help small businesses cover wages, so that workers get their due pay and jobs are preserved.

She said an emergency employment program for displaced workers must also continue.

“Government must step in to steer our economy toward recovery and avoid persistent decline and inflation. There are proposals ready and available in Congress to achieve this,” Quimbo said.

“If we act swiftly on responsive legislation, perhaps our economy can still avert further losses and stay on track for development,” she added.

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