Robredo bats for inclusion of ‘ayuda,’ MSME grants in 2022 budget

Published August 24, 2021, 6:17 PM

by Raymund Antonio

Vice President Leni Robredo is proposing to include the ayuda or cash aid and the conditional cash grant to micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in the 2022 national budget to curb the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Filipinos and small businesses.

Vice President Leni Robredo speaks at the virtual Archer Talks and Eagles’ Meet Our Leaders forum on August 24, 2021. (Archer Talks/Facebook)

She believes that the pandemic and other related issues should still be the government’s concerns “in the next year or so” because the number one enemy is still “hunger” and “unemployment.”

“Pinupush natin na sana for the 2022 budget nasa GAA na iyong tulong na ayuda para handa na tayo (We are pushing that hopefully the cash aid will be included in the GAA so we are ready) just in case na may masama na naman mangyari (that something bad happens) next year,” Robredo said during the virtual Archer Talks and Eagles’ Meet Our Leaders forum.

“Hindi na tayo maghihintay sa Congress na magpasa ng panibagong batas pero meron nang nakaset aside para diyan (We would no longer wait for Congress to pass a new law because there’s there something set aside already),” she added.

The GAA refers to the General Appropriations Act which will define the annual expenditure program of the national government and all of its instrumentalities.

READ: ‘The biggest budget yet’: Palace submits P5.04-T proposed budget for 2022

If the cash aid is already included in the GAA, there will be no need to wait for Congress to pass a law as what happened with the Bayanihan 1 and 2 that allocated cash aid for those affected by the lockdowns.

Congress passed in the third and final reading the P410-billion Bayanihan 3 which hopes to help the country recover from the pandemic.

The measure includes a proposed P2,000 cash aid to all 108 million Filipinos.

Robredo said she has pushed for the Bayanihan 3 “from the very start” because it will provide “enough ayuda.”

READ: Lower House passes Bayanihan 3 bill on third reading

She also hopes for an unemployment insurance or benefits similar to what other countries offer.

In the Unites States, for example, those who lost their jobs because of the pandemic received unemployment insurance for almost a year.

But more than that, Robredo is also calling on the government to include conditional cash grant to MSMEs in the 2022 GAA.

“Hopefully, it’s not loans for MSMEs anymore. We hope this is a conditional grant that we are going to give you money so your business will not shut down but with the condition that you will not lay off employees,” she said in Filipino.

Even in her own office, the vice president said they’ve always wanted to give stimulus package to the MSMEs but their budget is not enough.

The Office of the Vice President (OVP) only has P900 million in budget for 2021, most of which were rechanneled to their pandemic response programs.

“There are so many things that we want to do, but because of our limitations, we can’t,” Robredo noted.