Congress has no reason to pass another big-time COVID-19 economic stimulus package to revive the country’s economy, Senator Sherwin Gatchalian said on Monday.
Gatchalian said there are sufficient funds under the P4.506-trillion 2021 General Appropriations Act (GAA) that the government has touted as the country’s blueprint to economic recovery in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I don’t see the point for Bayanihan 3. The 2021 budget is the Bayanihan 3,” Gatchalian said in an interview over ANC Headstart.
“That’s why when we were crafting the 2021 budget, we asked the Executive (department) and the Executive also gave recommendations that they need to jumpstart our economy this 2021. That’s why Bayanihan 3 is the 2021 budget,” he reiterated.
Lawmakers at the House of Representatives have been pushing for a P420-billion economic stimulus package, also called as the “Bayanihan to Arise as One Act” or Bayanihan 3.
Last year, Congress passed Bayanihan to Heal as One Act or Bayanihan 1 and Bayanihan to Recover As One Act or Bayanihan 2 in a bid to help revive the country’s economy battered by the pandemic.
House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco and Marikina Rep. Stella Luz Quimbo have filed House Bill No. 8628, or the proposed Bayanihan 3 after the government reported that the Philippines’ Gross Domestic Product (GDP) shrunk to -9.5 percent in 2020.
But Gatchalian explained that the items under the 2021 national budget have already been fully considered and recommended by the Executive department to jumpstart the country’s economy.
He said both the Bayanihan 1 and 2 have already put in place policies aimed at helping the country’s micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and, at the same time, help roll out the government’s vaccination program.
The senator also said it is unnecessary to pass a newer version as some items in the Bayanihan 2 are still waiting to be disbursed.
“Some of the items in Bayanihan 2 are still waiting to be dispersed…there are a lot of items there, but on top of my head, those support to the education sector, to the business sector are also not fully dispersed,” he said.
“So I think one of the most important aspect is not only approving the law but also pushing for the full implementation of the law. In this case, the funds allocated in Bayanihan 2,” the lawmaker stressed.