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Philippines' P1.4T war chest against COVID-19 to be available by end-April —DOF


The Philippines' P1.49-trillion war chest against the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is estimated to be fully available by the end of the month, the Department of Finance (DOF) said Wednesday.

According to Finance Assistant Secretary Antonio "Tony" Lambino II, the government funding requirement is expected to be available by Thursday next week, April 30.

"Estimate is all of the financing will be ready by end of April," he said in a mobile message.

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III on Tuesday said the administration raised its funding commitment to P1.491 trillion, equivalent to 8% of the gross domestic product (GDP) as of 2019.

The government earlier said it was looking to spend some P1.17 trillion for COVID-19 response measures, of which around P836.4 billion would be raised together with monetary authorities to support the economy.

The DOF earlier unveiled the four pillars of its socioeconomic strategy against COVID-19:

  • Pillar 1 for emergency support for vulnerable groups and individuals;
  • Pillar 2 for expanded medical resources;
  • Pillar 3 for fiscal and monetary actions; and
  • Pillar 4 for an economic recovery plan.

 

"We are already rolling out the programs," Lambino said on Wednesday. Additional details were not immediately available.

No double counting

In an earlier interview with reporters, Acting Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua said the first and second pillars already have funds.

"These two already have funds. Pillar 3, monetary policy, and all the financing are not funding Pillars 1 and 2. They are actual reserve money funding a possible future recovery plan," he said.

Pillar 3 includes the P310-billion additional financing from various multilateral and bilateral sources such as the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank.

It also covers the P300-billion repurchase agreement of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), the P200-billion estimated additional liquidity from the reduction of the reserve requirement ratio, the P33-billion expansion in liquidity over the next 12 months from the policy easing, and regulatory relief for supervised financial institutions.

"Certainly there is no double counting, but I think we can improve on the presentation," said Chua.

Chua took over after former Secretary Ernesto Pernia — who left his post as the NEDA chief last week — said he chose to quit given the differences with other members of the economic cluster.

Pernia over the weekend said he wanted to continue serving the government in the fight against COVID-19, but his proposal to open up more economic activity was a "dissonant" voice in the Cabinet—KG/AOL, GMA News

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