House Passes ₱1.3-T COVID Stimulus Package

 

Just before its sine die adjournment the House of Representatives passed on third and final reading House Bill No. 6815 or the Accelerated Recovery and Investments Stimulus for the Economy (ARISE) bill.

Under the bill formerly known as the Philippine Economic Stimulus Act (PESA) bill, ₱1.3 trillion would be allocated to bolster the nation’s economy through investts in health, education, infrastructure, agriculture, and other sectors.

Representative Joey Salceda, Chairperson of the House Committee on Ways and Means, reported that the legislation would create three million short-term jobs, assist as many as five and a half million, micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), and protect the jobs of some 15.5 million Filipinos.

Aside from extending the effectivity of the 2019 and 2020 budgets as prescribed in the pertinent General Appropriations Acts, House Bill No. 6815 would have also extended the effectivity of Republic Act No. 11469 or the Bayanihan to Heal as One Law.

For industry and MSME support, ₱70 billion has been allocated to the Department of Transportation (DOTr) while the Department of Tourism (DOT) would receive ₱ 58-B. The Department of Trade and Industry on the other hand aims to spend ₱ 10-B to assist up to 1-M MSMEs. 

A total of ₱40 million shall be used by the Philippine Guarantee Corporation for loan programs until 2021. The Small Business Corporation (SBCorp.) of the Department of Trade and Industry would be supplemented by a ₱75 billion budget to use until 2021. SBCorp had already begun the facilitation of loans to MSMEs with an initial budget of ₱1.5 billion earmarked by the institution.

State-owned banks Land Bank of the Philippines and the Development Bank of the Philippines,would receive ₱50 billion to carry out its interest-free loans for SMEs especially those in the agri-fishery sectors.

For employees’ protection, wage subsidy will be covered by a ₱ 110 billion budget which would span for two months to include freelancers and repatriated overseas Filipino workers. The proposed bill also sets ₱20 billion for targeted and expanded testing to be utilized until 2021.

The Department of Labor and Employment’s (DOLE) cash-for-work program would further be supplemented with an allocation of ₱25 billion to provide for up to 3-M beneficiaries.

Meanwhile, ₱ 42 billion was allotted for education subsidy while ₱ 5 billion would be used to conduct technical and vocational education.

Tax collections and other sources of government revenue have been significantly affected by the pandemic. The Bureau of Treasury reported that the budget deficit of that government for May 2020 stood at ₱202 billion.

 

Aside from the ARISE Act, Congress has also crafted the following measures on COVID-19 recovery: House Bill No. 6920 or the COVID-19 Unemployment Reduction Economic Stimulus (Cures) Act, a three-year, 1.5-T stimulus package focused on countryside capacity-building infrastructure; and House Bill No. 6816 or the Financial Institutions Strategic Transfer (FIST) Act, which provides for tax exemptions for banks and financial institutions on the sale of non-performing assets among others.

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