Angara prods gov't agencies to quickly utilize Bayanihan 2 funds

Published June 23, 2021, 12:45 PM

by Hannah Torregoza 

Senator Sonny Angara on Wednesday, June 23 prodded government agencies tasked to implement the provisions of the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act or Bayanihan 2 to quickly utilize the funds under the law before it lapses on June 30.

Angara noted there is very little time left for the implementing agenceis (IAs) to use the funds which have been allocated since September last year.

“There are still billions worth of funds left under Bayanihan 2. The extension of the funds is only until June 30 that’s why there is a need to expedite the disbursement of these funds,” said Angara, who chairs the Senate Finance Committee.

He said data from the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), as of May 18, 2021, shows that out of the P165.5-billion of funds appropriated under Bayanihan 2, P60.9 billion has yet to be obligated by the IAs.

Should the funds expire on June 30 and remain unobligated, Angara said these would be reverted back to the National Treasury.

“Congress acted with urgency in passing Bayanihan 2 in order to address the urgent needs of the different sectors affected by the COVID-19 pandemic,” the senator said.

“We owe it to our kababayans who are in dire need of assistance to act just as swiftly especially now with just a few days left in the Bayanihan 2 extension law,” he pointed out.

Under Bayanihan 2, P40.5-billion was provided for health, which includes the procurement of COVID-19 vaccines, the special risk allowance and compensation for health workers who contract COVID-19, and the hiring of contact tracers.

The law also provides a P55-billion for the Land Bank of the Philippines, Development Bank of the Philippines, Small Business Corporation, and the Philippine Guarantee Corporation as capital infusion, primarily to grant low-interest loans to micro small and medium enterprises affected by the pandemic.

The economic stimulus law also provided P9.5-billion to assist the transport sector espeecially for displaced drivers.

For education, P8.9-billion was allocated to assist the Department of Education (DepEd) in implementing online or distance learning education, the development of smart campuses of the state universities and colleges, and the provision of subsidies and allowances for deserving students among others.

The tourism sector was provided P10-billion for programs including cash-for-work, low-interest loans, and for tourist guide training and subsidies; and for the agriculture sector, P24-billion was allocated to ensure food security and continuous productivity of the sector.

However, the IAs have varying reasons for the slow utilization of funds for their programs—from delays in the bidding process to lack of data on the intended recipients, Angara noted.

“We strongly urge the IAs to work faster in completing their respective processes so that the intended beneficiaries of the programs we identified under Bayanihan 2 will get the help that they badly need at this time,” Angara said.