One of the embedded economic experts in the House of Representatives on Sunday, February 21 defended the leadership’s decision to strongly push for the swift passage of a third sequel of the Bayanihan Act proposing a P420 billion economic stimulus package.
Albay Rep. Joey Sarte-Salceda, chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means, said approval of House Bill 8628 or the Bayanihan to Arise as One Act (Bayanihan 3) is a move “in the right direction, particularly the vaccination-linked stimulus.”
“The fact of the matter is we need incentives to move vaccination forward, especially when only 32 percent of Filipinos are willing to take vaccines if the recent Pulse Asia Survey on the matter is correct,” Salceda said.
While a total 224 congressmen have supported the bill by joining as co-authors, there appeared lack of interest on the measure outside the Lower House.
Socio-economic Planning Secretary Karl Kendric Chua said there might no longer be a need for the passage of the bill as government appeared bent at further easing quarantine restrictions throughout the country.
Sen. Juan Edgardo Angara, chairman of House Committee on Finance, is also hesitant at rushing action on similar measures brought to his committee’s attention.
Authored by Speaker Lord Allan Velasco, HB 8628 still has to hurdle the House Committee Economic Affairs, the third panel to deliberate on it.
Two weeks ago, the House Committees on Appropriations and on Ways and Means endorsed its passage.
The bill seeks to allocate P108 billion for additional social amelioration to impacted households; P100 billion for capacity-building for impacted sectors; P52 billion for wage subsidies; P70 billion for capacity-building for agricultural producers; P30 billion for internet allowances to teachers and students; P30 billion for assistance to displaced workers; P25 billion for COVID-19 treatment and vaccines; and P5 billion for the rehabilitation of areas affected by recent floods and typhoons.
“I am a strong supporter of more spending stimulus. At the same time, stimulus has to be correctly timed and calibrated. I have always repeated that the most important economic measure now is vaccination,” explained Salceda.
“Stimulus must therefore be geared towards strengthening vaccination,” he stressed.
“I am more skeptical about outright dole-outs at this point, without a quick vaccination timeline, because once the money runs out and the economy is still restricted and confidence is still low, we will still have failed to solve the problem,” Salceda stated.