Gov't must borrow money to revive economy, ensure funds for OFWs - Drilon | Inquirer News
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Gov’t must borrow money to revive economy, ensure funds for OFWs – Drilon

/ 09:14 AM June 25, 2020

MANILA, Philippines —Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Thursday said the government would have “no choice” but to borrow more money to revive the Philippine economy amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic and to ensure that the government would have enough funds to assist overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) displaced by the health crisis

Drilon said this after the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) bared that it could face bankruptcy by the end of 2021 should the COVID-19 pandemic displace more Filipino migrant workers.

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“Yung ating mga OFW ay isang sektor na dapat tulungan, kaya ako’y sumosuporta na dapat mangutang tayo. Hindi baleng mawala yung ating credit rating, pero kailangan mangutang tayo para sa ganon, mabigyan natin ng stimulus, maibalik natin ang sigla ang ating ekonomiya at mag-appropriate ang Kongreso para masuporta natin ang OWWA,” the senator said in an interview on dzMM Teleradyo.

(Our OFWs is a sector that we should assist, that’s why I support the move to  borrow money. It does not matter if we lose our credit rating, but we need to borrow money to provide stimulus, to revive the economy and Congress can appropriate funds to support OWWA).

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“Hindi po problema yan e, ang problema is ang willingness ng ating pamahalaan, lalo na ang ating Department of Finance, na dagdagan ang ating utang, kasi wala tayong choice e, no choice, walang koleksyon. Kailangan ibalik ang ating ekonomiya para magkaroon ng koleksyon ang ating [Bureau of Internal Revenue], e kung wala kang koleksyon e patuloy ang gastos e talagang lalo tayong mababaon,” he added.

(That is not a problem, the problem is the willingness of the government, especially the Department of Finance, to borrow more because we have no choice, there’s no collection. We need to revive the economy so that tax collections of the Bureau of Internal Revenue could increase, if there are no government collections but we keep on spending, our economy will further deteriorate).

The government’s outstanding debt surged to a new high of P8.6 trillion as of April this year as the country continues to borrow money to finance the coronavirus response.

During a Senate labor committee hearing on Wednesday, OWWA Administrator Hans Leo Cacdac said the agency’s P19.6 billion fund at the beginning of 2020 could plunge to P10 billion at the end of the year as it continues to spend for the food, accommodation and transportation of OFWs returning home amid the pandemic.

Should the trend of “declining income and more OFWs coming home” continue, Cacdac said OWWA funds could nosedive to less than P1 billion by the end of 2021, which could drive the agency to bankruptcy.

But Drilon, a former labor secretary and chairman of OWWA, reiterated that the agency should utilize all of its funds to assist repatriated OFWs.

“Iyan po ang purpose kung bakit po tinayo itong OWWA. Ang pondo po diyan ay para sa pagtulong,” the senator said.

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(That’s why OWWA was created. Its funds should be used to help OFWs).

The latest figures from the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) showed that there are around 345,000 OFWs affected by the pandemic.

According to DOLE, 85,000 OFWs remain “stranded” amid the health crisis. Around 59,000 have so far been repatriated.

Meanwhile, 191,000 opted to stay overseas despite the government’s repatriation offer.

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TAGS: funds, government debt, Nation, News, OFW assistance, Overseas Filipino Workers, Owwa, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon
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