PH raises COVID-19 budget to P1.49 trillion

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Carlos Dominguez

The Philippine government has raised to P1.49 trillion the funding requirement for the various measures aimed to respond to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic in the country.

“The total amount of funds we have committed to combat the virus is now P1.491 trillion,” Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said on Tuesday, during the virtual meeting of the Economic Stimulus Package subcommittee of the House Defeat COVID-19 Committee.

“This is right now close to $30 billion which is already 8% of our GDP (gross domestic product) last year,” Dominguez said.

Earlier, Dominguez said that the government was looking into increasing to about P1.17 trillion for COVID-19 response measures, of which around P836.4 billion would be raised together with monetary authorities “for the support of the economy.”

Dominguez said the government has lined up new programs designed to assist vulnerable sectors amid the COVID-19  pandemic.

These programs already include the emergency subsidy program for 18 million low-income families amounting to P205 billion, the wage subsidy program for employees of small businesses amounting to P51 billion to “incentivize” retention of workers, and the credit guarantee for small businesses up to P120 billion.

Earlier, lawmakers said that there are around P275 billion off-budget funds that can be used to help address the COVID-19 crisis on top of the funds from the 2020 General Appropriations Act that can also be tapped.

However, President Rodrigo Duterte said this amount is not enough, as he asked Dominguez to find more funds for the government’s COVID-19 response.

As of Tuesday, there are 6,599 cases of COVID-19 reported in the Philippines, 437 deaths and 654 recoveries./Stacy Ang

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