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Lagman proposes P1-T stimulus package for COVID-19 assistance

Albay Representative Edcel Lagman has proposed a P1 trillion stimulus package to enable the government to continue providing assistance to people and businesses affected by the ongoing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) emergency.

"Not less than P1 trillion is needed for a stimulus package for [the] government to continue its social and labor amelioration assistance and to provide a lifeline for distressed businesses," Lagman said in a statement on Wednesday.

"The funding shall include assistance not only to vulnerable families and displaced workers but also to other affected persons belonging to the middle class," he added.

According to Lagman, he had telephone conversation with Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia earlier in the day where they agreed that major corporations like airlines, shipping, land transport, hotels, export firms, and manufacturers, also need assistance apart from micro, small and medium enterprises.

He said his proposed amount could come from various sources, including the "monetization by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) for budget support of an allowable portion of the country’s foreign reserves which was at a high of $83.2-billion as of end-March 2019, provided a six-month import buffer is not jeopardized."

Other possible sources, Lagman said, include:

  • Issuance of bonds by the Bureau of the Treasury which the BSP shall purchase together with other qualified bidders;
  • Extension and expansion of the “Tax Amnesty Act” or RA 11213;
  • Grant of tax credit or special tax discounts for advance tax payments, subject to subsequent reconciliation of the actual tax due;
  • Sale of government assets;
  • Advances of dividends due to the national government from Government Owned and Controlled Corporations;
  • Additional contributions from the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation and the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office; and
  • Legitimate savings from the 2019 and 2020 General Appropriations Acts (GAAs) like: 10% across the board reduction of MOOE of all departments and agencies, reduction of procurement of military hardware, IT equipment and facilities, and office equipment, among others, and drastic reduction of foreign travel, seminars and conferences.

"The requirement under Section 25 (4) of Article XI of the Constitution for a special appropriations bill to be supported by funds actually available as certified by the National Treasurer, or to be raised by a corresponding revenue proposal, is satisfied by the available funding sources as well as of revenue administrative measures which do not impose new taxes," Lagman said.

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 Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez to find more funds for the government's COVID-19 response. —LDF, GMA News