Government rolls out ₱27.1-B spending plan for COVID-19 pandemic

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 16) — The government’s economic team has prepared a ₱27.1-billion spending plan for everyone affected by the coronavirus pandemic as an enhanced community quarantine in Luzon takes place.

“As directed by President Duterte, the government will provide targeted and direct programs to guarantee that benefits will go to our workers and other affected sectors. We have enough but limited resources, so our job is to make sure that we have sufficient funds for programs mitigating the adverse effects of COVID-19 on our economy,” said Department of Finance (DOF) Secretary Carlos Dominguez III in a statement.

DOF says a ₱3.1 billion has been set aside to buy more coronavirus test kits. The funds came from Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation, Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office, and a grant from the Asian Development Bank.

Further, ₱14 billion was set aside to boost the tourism industry, ₱3 billion for scholarship programs of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority for displaced workers, ₱2.8 billion aid for farmers, ₱2 billion by the Department of Labor and Employment will be allotted to displaced workers, ₱1.2 billion was also set for Social Security System unemployment benefits, and ₱1 billion from the Department of Trade and Industry to finance small and medium enterprises affected by COVID-19.

The Government Service Insurance System will also provide a loan program for government workers.

Funds from the government-owned and controlled corporations will be also mobilized to airlines and the tourism industry.

Moreover, state economic managers also assured that COVID-19 will not affect that much the government’s key programs.

Department of Budget and Management Secretary Wendel Avisado assured that infrastructure programs under the “Build, Build, Build” are still ongoing and purchase of equipment needed is “unhampered.”

For his part, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia that the pandemic may have “transitory” impact, but should be closely monitored.

Agriculture Secretary William Dar, on the other hand, will implement Food Resiliency action to ensure access to safe and affordable food, initially for Metro Manila residents.

Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Benjamin Diokno said that the country’s economy can still grow this year.