P 1-T economic stimulus package pushed
MANILA, Philippines — The government should not scrimp on its stimulus package to revive the economy which took a heavy toll as the country imposed lockdown measures to stop the spread of the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19), Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto said on Tuesday.
Recto said that the stimulus package should be at least P1 trillion.
“You don’t use a fire extinguisher to fight a forest fire,” he said in a statement.
He noted that there were two schools of thought on how the government should respond to the health crisis.
One calls for a conservative approach with a short spending period while the other pushes an omnibus package and multiyear in disbursement, under the premise that the country would face the worst-case scenario due to the lack of a vaccine for COVID-19, he said.
For him, the country’s response “should be as big and as bold” as the problem.
“Any piecemeal approach will just be wasting money without achieving the desired goals,” he said.
A “medicine cabinet” approach, he said, was needed, meaning all the items that the country would need to address various problems should be available.
He understood the concerns of some that a huge budget would entail loans, but he said the economy would need a lot of help. “If the economy has flatlined, then we should not be scrimping on the voltage needed to shock it back to life,” he said.
One-time, big-time response
He also said a comprehensive package and a one-time, big-time response would do away with the need for Malacañang and Congress to keep on passing laws to authorize spending.
“If it’s not comprehensive, it creates an ad hoc mentality. If we are digging in for the long run, then we might as well hoard enough resources for the long haul,” he said.
An extensive plan would also assure the people that the government has long-term plans in place, he said.
“We have to give our people hope,” he added.
The enhanced community quarantine imposed over Luzon since mid-March to prevent the spread of COVID-19 had closed down many businesses as most people were required to stay at home.
The lockdown was eased this month, but the devastating effect on the economy had been substantial and the jobs of 2.5 million workers were affected.
The government will “pump prime the economy” through recovery and resiliency programs to be implemented once lockdowns are fully lifted.
President Rodrigo Duterte said the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) was finalizing the working discussion paper, “We Recover as One,” on the proposed social, economic and governance strategies to help the country in adapting to the new normal.
Economic resiliency plan
“The NEDSA is also spearheading discussions on formulating an economic recovery program to cover the period after the lifting of the community quarantine until the end of 2020, as well as an economic resiliency plan to be implemented in 2021,” he said.
The NEDA regional development group has tasked NEDA regional officers to engage local government units (LGUs) in the formulation of regional recovery programs (RRPs) for their respective jurisdictions.
“The approach shall be bottom-up, responsive to the needs of the community. The RRPs shall clearly define the role of the LGU in the recovery process, and provide a brief description of the nature of LGU activities under each sector,” the report said.
“The discussion paper also includes initiatives to rebuild consumer and business confidence,” the President said.
The report explained that various drivers of urban growth were considered in modeling, such as internal revenue allocation, average provincial family income, government expenditure, susceptibility to hazards, presence of ecozones, distance to nearest airports and ports, proximity to road network, and percentage of protected areas.
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