House prepares P370 B stimulus package

Published April 15, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Charissa Luci-Atienza

The House of Representative leadership will prioritize the approval of the P370-billion economic stimulus package when Congress resumes its session on May 4 to ensure business continuity and job employment to Filipinos during the ongoing national health emergency.

Majority Leader Rep. Martin Romualdez, who is also the co-chairperson of the House Defeat COVID-19 Ad Hoc Committee (DCC), assured the public that the chamber would flex its muscles to pass its economic stimulus package.


“We are already doing everything we can to fast-track so that when we resume on May 4, we will hit the ground running,” he told reporters in a briefing on late Tuesday afternoon after the virtual technical working group (TWG) meeting of the DCC’s economic stimulus cluster.

Romualdez said the public could expect the DCC to hold more meetings during congressional break to fast track the process of providing more assistance to the people.

“With the leadership of Speaker (Cayetano) and with our partners in (the executive branch) led by Finance Secretary Dominguez and (other) members of the Cabinet, we will be able to meet the urgent needs of the people (and the specific requirements of the) business sector with the package that has been envisioned and presented in this hearing,” he said.

During the virtual meeting, Marikina City Rep. Stella Luz Quimbo, one of the co-chairpersons of Economic Stimulus sought a P370-billion fiscal stimulus package to restore business confidence and provide employment opportunities to people.

She said under her proposed “Economy Moving Forward as One Act”, P110 billion will be allocated for wage subsidies under the Department of Labor and Employment.

Her proposal also covers P130 billion interest-free loans under the Land Bank of the Philippines, Development Bank of the Philippines, Small Business Corporation, and the Agricultural Credit Policy Council; P10 billion loan guarantees; P119 billion grants to support activities to improve business resilience under the Department of Trade and Industry, Department of Tourism; and P1 billion compensation for paid sick leaves of COVID patients under the Social Security System and the Government Service Insurance System.

For her part, House committee on economic affairs chairperson and AAMBIS-OWA party-list Rep. Sharon Garin, who co-chairs the economic cluster, cited the need to pass Quimbo’s proposal to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“During the ECQ we need to safeguard lives, but after the ECQ, we need to safeguard their livelihood. The lifeblood of the economy is employment. Without jobs Filipino will not have income, won’t not have food on their table and won’t be healthy members of our society,” she said.

Rep. Joey Salceda (Albay 2nd district) called for the creation of a National Emergency Investment Corporation (NEIC) to act as a consolidator of private sector debts, and service these debts in exchange for equity, and yield returns for the government.

“The NEIC will minimize permanent damage to the economy by bailing out firms who would go bankrupt because of current COVID-19-driven difficulties, but which would otherwise be profitable under different conditions.” Salceda said

He said the NEIC, a capital allocation firm or an investment firm of the government, will be supervised by the Department of Finance and Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corporation (PSALM).

Salceda also sought the implementation of an enhanced Build, Build, Build Program, saying that positive returns from this initiative can be used to support the heavy load now being borne by the country’s health care system.

The economic cluster decided to consolidate the proposals presented by Garin, Salceda and Quimbo.