House eyes P1.5-T economic stimulus fund to curb unemployment
MANILA, Philippines — To cushion the impact of the coronavirus crisis, several lawmakers have filed a bill seeking a P1.5 trillion economic stimulus fund for infrastructure projects in various priority sectors.
House Bill No. 6709, or “The COVID-19 Unemployment Reduction Economic Stimulus (CURES) Act of 2020,” which was filed on Monday, sought to allocate funding for the implementation of infrastructure projects in the health, education, agriculture, and local roads/infrastructure livelihood sectors.
Citing the Philippine Constructors Association, lawmakers said that around 1.3 million construction workers were “likely displaced” due to the enhanced community quarantine implemented in the Luzon region in response to the pandemic.
Aside from the displaced workers, thousands of overseas Filipino workers have also returned to the country, and who now comprise the vast number of jobless individuals.
“Under this COVID-19 Unemployment Reduction Economic Stimulus (CURES) Act of 2020, government infrastructure spending shall be primarily geared towards maximizing the direct and indirect creation and sustaining of jobs particularly in the Philippine rural countryside,” the bill’s explanatory note read.
“Anchored on the premise that the ‘construction phase of infrastructural projects like roads, watershed development, construction of irrigation dams, or powerhouses the poor are provided employment and income-earning opportunities’, the CURES Act of 2020 will prioritize the funding of projects that target infrastructure building down the most basic unit of the political structure — the barangay level,” it added.
The program will be implemented in conjunction with the “Balik Probinsya Program” which sought to decongest Metro Manila, the lawmakers said.
Under the bill, P500 billion shall be appropriated for each year for three fiscal years.
“After three years, Congress shall enact legislation extending or modifying the same or terminating the Fund In the latter case the unobligated balance shall be made available for the general budgetary requirements of the year succeeding its termination,” the bill further stated.
Implementation of projects under the CURES Fund shall be undertaken by national government departments or agencies authorised by law or their charter to implement such projects.
Authors of the bill include House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano; Majority Leader Martin Romualdez; Deputy Speakers Luis Raymond Villafuerte, Paolo Duterte, Loren Legarda; House Appropriations committee chair Eric Yap; Public Accounts committee chair Mike Defensor; Good Government and Public Accountability committee chair Jose Antonio Sy-Alvarado; and Taguig City-Pateros Rep. Maria Laarni Cayetano.
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