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Gov't to borrow $5.6B from foreign banks for COVID-19 response —Dominguez

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said the government is eyeing a $5.6 loan from the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank to help shore up the economy amid the impact of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

"We are also coming up with a program to borrow more money to continuously support the economy and our fight against COVID-19," Dominguez said in a televised briefing with President Rodrigo Duterte and several Cabinet officials early Thursday.

"Right now, tina-tap natin iyong kaibigan natin sa ADB and World Bank, and we will probably be borrowing $5.6 billion from them.  Kung kulang pa, we will probably be going sa commercial market," he said.

Dominguez added, "We are confident we have the financial capability to bridge this problem that COVID-19 has brought us.  We want to assure all our citizens at this point in time that we have the money, but we have to realize hindi endless ang perang ito, so we have to send correctly."

Dominguez said government economic managers and the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas have put together "fiscal and monetary actions of a value up to this date of P1.17 trillion or 5.6 percent of GDP" to address the needs of the people impacted by the crisis.

He said spending would focus on programs that will provide subsidies to low-income families and workers of small and medium enterprises who have temporarily halted business due to the quarantine.

Gov't assets

In a televised address early Thursday, President Rodrigo Duterte said he would consider selling the assets of the Philippine government if its funds for the fight against COVID-19 and for the assistance to affected Filipinos run out.

"Pag maubos talaga ang pera, ipabili ko lahat ng propiyedad ng gobyerno. Iyang Cultural Center, PICC, yung lupa diyan. Totoo," said Duterte, who admitted that the P275 billion earmarked for COVID-19 response is yet to be collected by the government.

"Kapag wala na akong makuha and we are about to sink, and really sink, I will sell all the assets of government tapos itulong ko sa tao," he added.

Congress had approved a P275-billion package in March under the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act to support some 18 million low-income households affected by the enhanced community quarantines that stalled the economy.

On Wednesday, the number of COVID-19 cases climbed to a national total of 3,870 with 182 fatalities and 94 recoveries. —LDF/KBK, GMA News