Duterte eyes special session on economic stimulus

Published June 25, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

 

By Genalyn Kabiling

A special session of Congress will be called by President Duterte once the proposed economic stimulus program to help ride out the coronavirus pandemic is finalized, Malacañang announced Thursday.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte holds a meeting with members of the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) at the Malago Clubhouse in Malacañang on May 28, 2020. (ACE MORANDANTE/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO/MANILA BULLETIN)
President Rodrigo Roa Duterte holds a meeting with members of the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) at the Malago Clubhouse in Malacañang on May 28, 2020. (ACE MORANDANTE/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO/MANILA BULLETIN)

According to Presidential spokesman Harry Roque, the proposed legislation includes not only the stimulus measures but also an extension of the President’s authority to respond to the public health emergency.

“Magpapatawag ang Presidente ng special session kung mayroon na nabuong consensus kung magkano ang magiging stimulus package. (The President will call for a special session when there is already a consensus reached on the amount of the stimulus package),” he said during a Palace press briefing.

“Napasama na isang panukalang batas yung extension ng emergency powers at stimulus package pero mangyayari na po ‘yan (The proposed legislation will include the extension of the emergency powers and the stimulus package. That will take place),” he added.

Congress adjourned sine die its first regular session early this month without passing the proposed second Bayanihan law. It will open the regular session next month.

Malacañang earlier said the government prefers a proposed economic stimulus package that it can afford and will not require too much borrowing.

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III earlier opposed the P1.3 trillion economic stimulus packages proposed by the House of Representatives, saying these cannot be funded due to lack of excess revenue. He said any stimulus proposal must be funded by government savings, not by new borrowings.

The Palace agreed that the government must not borrow too much to finance the measure aimed at helping industries and reviving the economy. “We should only offer stimulus that we afford and right now that’s around P140 billion,” Roque said.

The proposed stimulus program also comes following the expiry of Republic Act No. 11469, also known as the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act.

The law, signed last March, gave the President’s additional powers to respond to the pandemic, such as granting emergency subsidy to low income families, realigning funds in the national budget, directing the operation of private establishments, and requiring businesses to prioritize contracts for materials and services necessary for the crisis.

Roque earlier said the President still needs the emergency powers to effectively address the pandemic, particularly to hasten the purchase of medical supplies. He said another important power of the President is the authority to take over private hospitals.

“The emergency powers are important in this case because if they don’t comply, then we may have to take over some of these hospitals and hire our own nurses and doctors to man them,” he said.

 
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