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Gov't raises COVID-19 budget to P1.49 trillion

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

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III made the announcement on Tuesday during the virtual meeting of the Economic Stimulus Package subcommittee of the House Defeat COVID-19 Committee.

"The total amount of funds we have now committed to combat the virus is now P1.491 trillion," Dominguez said.

"This is right now close to $30 billion which is already 8% of our GDP (gross domestic product) last year," he added.

Earlier, Dominguez said that the government was looking to raise 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.”

According to the Cabinet official on Tuesday, the government has lined up new programs designed to assist vulnerable sectors amid the COVID-19 crisis.

These programs already include the emergency subsidy program for P18 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.

Duterte, however, said this amount is not enough, and 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, with 437 deaths and 654 recoveries. —LDF, GMA News