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P628B needed for economic stimulus program until 2021, says Sotto

The Philippines will need a P600-billion fund to support activities that will help revive its economy until 2021, according to Senate President Vicente Sotto III on Wednesday.

"For 2020, ang expected natin dito kakailanganin ng mga P548 billion for the entire year and then for 2021, para maipagpatuloy ito until next year, probably the estimate is around P80 billion," Sotto said in a virtual interview.

The senator recently filed Senate Bill No. 1542, which seeks to create a stimulus program that will "restore economic growth, maintain employment levels, and expand the productive capacity of the country."

He said the estimated budget he mentioned will cover the salient provisions of his proposed measure which include mass testing for COVID-19; wage subsidies to affected sectors; expansion of tertiary education subsidy; provision of loans to micro, small, and medium enterprises; and enhancing the "Build, Build, Build" program.

A counterpart measure was filed at the House of Representatives by Quezon Representative Mark Enverga.

The proposed P80 billion economic stimulus fund for 2021 should be included in next year's national budget, according to Sotto.

"As we speak, pinag-uusapan na ng Department of Budget and Management 'yan kung paano ia-accommodate pero depende dito sa maipapasa natin [na bill] kung maipapasa natin ito," he said.

He added that the country may also consider availing loans as it earned a good credit rating in the past years.

Last month, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said the funding requirement for the various measures aimed to respond to the COVID-19 crisis amounts to P1.49 trillion and that the said war chest will be available by the end of April. —LDF, GMA News