Support for Bayanihan 3 snowballing in House

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The proposed  Bayanihan to Arise As One Act or Bayanihan 3 is gaining more support at the House of Representatives, with lawmakers crossing party-lines.

On Tuesday, at least 162 lawmakers crossing party-lines expressed their backing for House Bill (HB) 8628 or the Bayanihan 3 bill that proposes a P420-billion allocation to further stimulate economic recovery amid the ongoing coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).

The lawmakers, who are members of the supermajority, minority and independent blocs, crossed party-lines to show support for HB 8628 filed by Speaker Lord Allan Velasco and Marikina City Second District Rep. Stella Luz Quimbo.

Deputy Speaker and Ilocos Sur Second District Rep. Kristine Singson-Meehan said the measure deserves bipartisan support for being “truly responsive to the needs of the people” amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.

“The sectors that will benefit from the interventions provided for in the bill are well-targeted, which provides an assurance that the proposed funds won’t go to waste, and it will surely help the economy recover from Covid-19,” she said.

For her part, Deputy Speaker and Bagong Henerasyon party-list Rep. Bernadette Herrera-Dy said the measure “provides for a comprehensive and integrated strategy to help the economy recover faster from the devastating impacts of the pandemic.”

Quimbo said the government needs to infuse a substantial amount into the economy to prevent a so-called “stagflation” or a combination of stagnant economy and high inflation.

She noted that the Philippines spent too little against its gross domestic product (GDP) in 2020 as compared to other Asian countries in responding to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“One of the main drivers of the decline is the decrease of 7.9 percent in household consumption. Meanwhile, government spending only contributed 1.3 percent to GDP growth last year,” she said.

Under the bill, a P420-billion fund shall be allocated for the implementation of Covid-19 response, as well as recovery interventions grounded on economic inclusivity and collective growth.

It proposes to allocate P108 billion for additional social amelioration to impacted households, P100 billion for capacity-building for impacted sectors, P52 billion for wage subsidies, P70 billion for capacity-building for agricultural producers, P30 billion for internet allowances to students and teachers, P30 billion for assistance to displaced workers, P25 billion for Covid-19 treatment and vaccines, and P5 billion for the rehabilitation of areas impacted by recent floods and typhoons.

She added that the country’s current sources of funding, particularly the Bayanihan 2 law’s appropriation of P165 billion and the 2021 national budget’s P250 billion in coronavirus response items are “clearly insufficient to make up for our economic losses in 2020, which are estimated to be at P3.2 trillion.”

She said that the government should have no problem allocating P420 billion, claiming that the country has a PHP1.6 trillion cash balance as of November 2020.

“The measure proposes a P420-billion fund for the implementation of much-needed Covid-19 response and recovery interventions grounded on economic inclusivity and collective growth,” Herrera-Dy said.

The measure allots P52 billion for subsidies to small business for wages and other worker-related expenses; P100 billion for the capacity building of businesses in critically impacted sectors; P108 billion for the provision of emergency subsidies to households impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic; P70 billion for the provision of assistance and capacity building to farmers, livestock producers and fishermen; P30 billion for the implementation of unemployment assistance and cash-for-work programs under the Labor department; P28 billion for allowances for primary, secondary, and tertiary students in public and private institutions; P2 billion for the allowances of primary, secondary, and tertiary teachers in public and private institutions; P5 billion for the Department of Public Works and Highways; and P25 billion for the Department of Health for the procurement of Covid-19 vaccines and others.

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