Fiscal stimulus program pushed as PH braces for pandemic's economic impact

Published March 22, 2020, 7:42 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Ellson A. Quismorio

Bagong Henerasyon (BH) Party-List Rep. Bernadette Herrera backed on Sunday the appeal of business groups for government to adopt a fiscal stimulus program in order to mitigate the economic impact of the 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

Rep. Bernadette Herrera-Dy (FACEBOOK / M,ANILA BULLETIN)

“While we combat the spread of COVID-19, it is imperative for Congress to pass measures that would effectively address the economic impact of the pandemic and ease the burdens of the Filipino people,” Herrera said.

Such fiscal stimulus program should include additional funds for conditional cash transfer recipients; additional funds to support workers; other measures to transfer funds or food to low-income families; additional funds for temporary hospitals and quarantine areas; funds to support businesses; targeted subsidies to health, tourism and transport industries; increased public investment spending; and the deferment of penalties related to interest payments, she said.

On top of this, the Deputy Majority Leader said there should be more fund allocations for micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to borrow for capitalization.

“More than 99 percent of the total number of establishments in the country are MSMEs. They account for more than 60 percent of jobs in the country. That’s why it is crucial for the government to extend more assistance to this sector,” Herrera explained.

She noted that there should also be tax breaks for MSMEs so that their savings may be used as additional capital to revitalize their businesses and to avoid laying off of employees in the middle of the pandemic.

“We should also open and liberalize the stock market, and make it more accessible for SMEs,” she said.

Herrera added that there should be a moratorium on credit card payments and bank loans for a period of six months to allow MSMEs to normalize their operations and save enough funds to start paying their loans.

The lady lawmaker said the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas could further reduce interest rates to enhance liquidity.