House OKs P1.3 economic stimulus package on 2nd reading
MANILA, Philippines — To cushion the effects of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, the House of Representatives has approved a P1.3 trillion economic stimulus package which includes a budget for massive testing.
Under House Bill No. 6815 or the Accelerated Recovery and Investments Stimulus for the Economy of the Philippines (ARISE Philippines Act), a clean copy of which was provided to the media on Tuesday, resources are set aside “for programs and policies that support the country’s emergence from an economy adversely affected by COVID-19.”
The bill sets aside a P20 billion budget—P10 billion for 2020 and another P10 billion for 2021—for mass COVID-19 testing “in areas in the country where the higher possibility of transmission of COVID-19 may occur or have occurred.”
Other interventions proposed in the bill are divided into four sectors: transitional, financial, sectoral, and structural.
Transitional interventions include the following:
- Wage subsidies which shall be provided to non-essential businesses, freelancers, self-employed, and repatriated overseas Filipino workers (P110 billion)
- Assistance to displaced workers, technical and vocational learners (P30 billion)
- Educational subsidy to students (P15 billion)
- Amendment of the Universal Health Care Act to provide Philhealth relief to OFWs
- Extension of principal loan payments
- Regulatory relief for business entities
- Regularization of micro, small, medium enterprises (MSME+)
Meanwhile, the bill states that financial interventions are economic relief “that is intended to accelerate recovery and improve the economic performance of business entities by broadening and increasing financial and credit access.”
Financial interventions, as proposed in the bill, include the following:
- Loans for MSME+ (P5 billion as additional paid-up capital of Small Business Corporation (SBCorp); P45 billion as a special fund for 2020; P25 billion as a special fund for 2021)
- Interest-free loans under the Land Bank of the Philippines and Development Bank of the Philippines (P50 billion)
- Loan guarantee under the Philippine Guarantee Corporation (P20 billion additional paid-up capital for PGC; P20 billion special fund for 2020; P20 billion for 2021)
Funds are also appropriated to various sectors as part of the sectoral interventions proposed by the bill.
This includes assistance to MSME+ under the Department of Trade and Industry (P10 billion); assistance to tourism (P58 billion); assistance to transportation industry (P70 billion); assistance to manufacturers, importers, exporters, and service sectors under the Board of Investments (P44 billion); assistance to the agri-fishery sector (P66 billion) and the creation of the National Emergency Investment Vehicle (P25 billion for 2020; P25 billion for 2021).
Lastly, the bill also proposes structural interventions which include the implementation of an enhanced Build, Build, Build program at P650 billion appropriated over three years starting 2020.
Regular accountability reports shall be submitted to Congress, as stated in the bill.
“Any public official or employee and any private individual in conspiracy with such official or employee who shall be found guilty by the proper court of corrupt practices in the utilization and/or disbursement of funds appropriated therein shall suffer the penalty of twelve years imprisonment and a fine treble the amount of the funds defrauded, malversed and/or corrupted, and shall likewise be perpetually disqualified from holding public office, either by appointment or election,” the bill stated.
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