The economic stimulus package of the Philippines amid the COVID-19 pandemic should be given a budget of at least P1 trillion, Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto said Tuesday.
“If the economy has flatlined, then we should not be scrimping on the voltage needed to shock it back to life,” Recto said in a statement.
He said the response, recovery, and resiliency plan for the country would only fare through if there is enough budget.
Recto explained that there are two emerging schools of thought on how the government can respond to the global pandemic—the “band-aid” approach and the “medicine cabinet” approach.
“One is conservative in funding, and with a short spending period. The other is an omnibus package, multi-year in disbursement, and premised on the worst case scenario, like the absence of a vaccine,” he said.
“I would go for the second because that is the medicine cabinet approach. Lahat ng kailangan nandoon na. One arsenal of responses. Hindi ‘yung patingi-tingi,” he said.
Creating an omnibus stimulus package would also spare Malacañang and Congress from passing multiple legislations for spending needs, the senator underscored.
“Kung hindi komprehensibo, it creates an ad hoc mentality. If we are digging in for the long run, then we might as well hoard enough resources for the long haul,” he said.
“Hindi naman ibig sabihin na kapag nandoon sa batas ang ganoong pondo ay automatic na gagastusin agad ng executive branch. In the end, the President will have to decide when to push the spending trigger, based on the law,” he added.
Last April, the government raised to P1.49 trillion the funding requirement to combat COVID-19 in the country.
In March, Congress passed the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act to give President Rodrigo Duterte authority to realign available government budget to COVID-19 response. The said power will be effective only until June unless extended by the legislative branch.—AOL, GMA News