By Mayvelin U Caraballo/Manila Times
Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez 3rd gave assurances that the government was committed to support the people, local governments and businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic, but spending had to be “prudent” because funds were not “inexhaustible.”
In a statement sent to reporters via Viber, Dominguez said Republic Act 11469, or the “Bayanihan to Heal as One Act,” granted President Rodrigo Duterte the power to use funds of the state-owned firms and to realign the 2020 national budget during the period of contagion to address new priorities.
These priorities include the support for people who lost their livelihood, protection of the people and frontliners and expansion of the country’s capacity to deal with the crisis.
The Finance chief said the P205bn social amelioration programme would provide support for the informal sector for two months and funding to the healthcare sector.
The government will also reallocate funds for assistance to local governments, micro, small and medium enterprises by subsidising the salaries of their employees and support the Departments of Agriculture and of Trade and Investments in enhancing food production and availability.
Dominguez said the government, along with the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), Securities and Exchange Commission and other institutions, implemented measures such as the moratorium on payment of loan and credit card amortisations and the prohibition of charging compounded interest and penalties during the period of contagion.
The Monetary Board also maintained liquidity and lowered interest rates, he added.
“These measures favour all sectors of society specially those some people call middle class,” the cabinet official said.
He added that the government aims to maintain its infrastructure programme through the ‘Build, Build, Build’ initiative to help the economy recover from the pandemic’s impact.
“We must realise, however, that we do not know how long this contagion will last and that our funds are not inexhaustible. We must therefore prudently marshal our resources and prepare for all eventualities,” Dominguez said. Meanwhile, BSP Governor Benjamin Diokno renewed his commitment to support the national government in riding out the crisis.
Diokno said the country’s monetary authorities were willing to continue to soften the potential economic slowdown because of the pandemic.
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