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Philippines readies economic stimulus package vs. COVID-19

The Philippine economic team is now crafting an economic stimulus package and a rehabilitation plan for the recovery of the country from the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

According to the Department of Finance (DOF), the economic cluster is now looking at remedies given the expected slowdown of growth due to the global health crisis.

"This planned stimulus package is already being crafted and will be responsive to the uncertainties of the situation," Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said in a statement on Tuesday.

Estimates of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) indicate that the economy may shrink by 0.6 percentage points if no intervention is done, but growth can still reach 4.3% should the crisis get resolved in three months.

"At this point, nobody knows how bad this pandemic will get or how long it will last," said Dominguez.

President Rodrigo Duterte late Monday evening already announced that the national government has allotted P200-billion worth of aid for low-income households that lost their sources of income due to COVID-19.

The Philippine economic team earlier rolled out a P27.1-billion package to help contain the spread of COVID-19 and to provide economic relief to businesses affected by the threat.

The bulk of the amount, equivalent to P14 billion, will be used for programs of the Department of Tourism (DOT), said to be the "most affected."

According to Dominguez, the country will utilize additional revenues that were raised from the Comprehensive Tax Reform Program (CTRP), worth almost P200 billion in 2018 and 2019.

"We are now using such resources to protect the economy against risks such as COVID-19," he explained.

Dominguez said the country is also currently in talks with the World Bank (WB) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) for concessional financing of up to $2 billion.

"More will be financed from loan syndications from the banks," Dominguez said, noting that the Philippine government has already received a grant of $3 million from the ADB and a loan facility of $100 million from the WB. —KG, GMA News