Gov’t ‘not relying too much’ on stimulus to revive economy

Published April 15, 2021, 5:10 PM

by Chino S. Leyco

As House lawmakers finalize the third coronavirus relief package, the Duterte administration’s chief economic manager said the government is not relaying too much on stimulus programs in reviving the local economy.

Speaking before senior executives of American and Philippine companies on Wednesday, April 15, Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III said that they will continue striking a “delicate balance” in their COVID-19 response programs.

Dominguez said efforts to provide substantial support to the economy amid the pandemic should not come at the expense of the government’s long-term debt sustainability.

“We are not relying too much on stimulus programs. We believe that our economic recovery should be anchored after the growth policies our administration put forward from the beginning of our term,” Dominguez said during the virtual forum.

Dominguez’s comment comes as the House of Representatives finalizes an estimated P370 economic stimulus fund, informally known as Bayanihan 3, which President Duterte did not certify as an urgent measure.

House members are pushing for the third round of stimulus package to alleviate poverty and hunger during the pandemic.

But Dominguez said the government has already provided $5.5 billion in unconditional grants to about 22 million people and lowered business taxes by around $2.6 billion per year.

 “In this battle against COVID-19, we are committed to continue striking a delicate balance between providing substantial support to the economy and maintaining our policy of long-term debt sustainability,” Dominguez said.

Post pandemic, Dominguez said the government’s flagship infrastructure plan will be the main force in the country recovery.

“We are expecting the Build, Build, Build program to be the main driver in rebuilding the domestic economy,” Dominguez said, adding that infrastructure spending has a high multiplier effect.

The finance chief also highlighted the need for the immediate passage of three economic measures now pending in Congress.

These bills are the amendments to the Foreign Investments Act, Public Service Act and Retail Trade Liberalization Act, which were all certified by the President as urgent. 

Dominguez also said the Duterte administration is looking forward to the congressional passage of the remaining components of the comprehensive tax reform program. 

These are Package 3, which will make the property valuation system at par with international standards; and Package 4, which aims to simplify the taxation of passive income and financial services and transactions by reducing the number of combinations of tax bases and rates from 80 to about 40.