Php 568-B economic stimulus package and mass testing gets house committee nod

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MANILA – The House of Representatives’ Defeat Covid-19 Committee (DCC) on Tuesday morning, May 26, approved a Php 568-billion budget to stimulate economic growth and to enhance the government’s capacity for Covid-19 expanded targeted testing during the new normal.

Dubbed as the Philippine Economic Stimulus Act (PESA) of 2020, the proposed law generally hopes to cushion the overall effect of the pandemic by providing funds in key result areas of governance such as creating employment and livelihood opportunities, providing education assistance for students and young people, rebuilding financial capability of the business sector, reinforcing “critically impacted sectors,” spurring national development efforts, and mainstreaming Covid-19 mass testing in the country, among others.

Under this package, the government aims to allocate Php 110-billion in wage subsidies to rack-and-file workers, and Php 30-billion for “cash for work” under the Department of Labor and Employment’s Tulong Pangkabuhayan para sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers (TUPAD).

A Php 15-billion budget is also allocated to assist students and young people affected by the pandemic like those who are displaced, stranded, children of overseas Filipino workers, and those who availed themselves of the Balik Probinsya, Bagong Pag-asa Program.

Likewise, a zero-interest loan window will be opened to micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to rebuild their financial capability through the Landbank and Development Bank of the Philippines.

Critically impacted sectors will also be reinforced with a proposed share of Php 58-billion for the tourism sector, Php 44-billion for the industry and service sector, Php 70-billion for transportation, Php 56-billion for agriculture, and another Php 10-billion for MSMEs under these sectors.

A Php 25-billion budget for the National Development Corporation is also included in the proposal to fund specific projects with national significance like perhaps on renewable energy, natural gas and oil exploration.

Furthermore, the proposed package has allocated a Php 10-billion budget intended for Covid-19 massive testing or expanded targeted testing, which seeks to alleviate ‘fear factor’ among the public since “without testing, workers will not go to work, consumers won’t go out and businesses won’t open,” according to the authors of the proposed bill.

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