Find the cash!

April 12, 2020

With no breakthrough in vaccine  development or treatment protocol in sight, we should prepare to stay longer, deeper in the dugouts for an extended 2010 coronavirus siege.

Of course, this means money has to be on hand as people remain off the payroll and depdnendet on doleuts from government.

Government mist, therefore, scrounge for funds from any and all available sources.   

And so we agree with and support a discerning lady lawmaker in making the call for sustainable fund sourcing and spending.

The possible extension of a lockdown beyond April 30 behooves the government to immediately identify more sources of funding for cash aid to the poor to prevent social unrest, Sen. Imee Marcos said.

Marcos, who chairs the Senate committee on economic affairs, estimates that at least P550 billion can still be added to the P200-billion emergency budget now being used for cash aid.

The Department of Finance  must move quickly to avail of loans and take advantage of a window of opportunity that is gradually closing, Marcos said, citing that the global Covid-19 crisis could last months longer, pull down the country's investment risk ratings, and affect bank interest rates on loans.

"Hindi economic target ang dapat natin sagipin ngayon kundi buhay ng tao. Bakit kasi nagkukuripot ang DoF kung marami naman ang pwedeng pagkunan ng pondo?" she said.

The lawmaker repeated her call made last month that the DoF can borrow about P440 billion, an amount that would still be within a "manageable debt ceiling of 5.4%," from the present 3.2-percent level being maintained by the government.

Additional funds can also be sourced from unused savings from the 2019 national budget, calamity and contingency funds of government departments and agencies like the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp., Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office, PhilHealth, and the Office of the President.

Reported cases of Covid-19 infection are expected to rise in April, as the Department of Health begins to expand its capacity to conduct tests on a larger scale and plot the progress of the pandemic, Marocs said.

Her sentiments were shared and echoed by a fellow lawmaker who also batted for an aggressive funding search.

In a statement, Sen. Panfilo Lacson said;

This is a time for the survival of our people and the whole country as well, and the President must think of anything, even the most extraordinary measure, to save us all.

President Duterte's pronouncement to sell all assets of the government, if it is needed to bolster the government's response to the COVID-19 threat, is thus a mark of a true leader.

I would have done the same for my men in my previous life if it came to that - and even with my Senate staff now.

As I have said before, these are extraordinary times that call for extraordinary measures.

The government has come up to date with about P1.17 trillion worth of fiscal and monetary measures to help Filipinos combat the effect of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to Finance Sec. Carlos Dominguez III..

“We have a long breakdown of how we have this program but mostly, it was to provide subsidies for the low-income families and workers of the small and medium enterprises,” Dominguez said said, citing that these fiscal and monetary measures account for about 5 to 6 percent of domestic output.

These measures include the P205 billion realigned so far from this year’s national budget as mandated by the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, and the P300 billion used by the Bangko Sentral ng to purchase government securities that will be repurchased within six months, which would boost the national government’s funding capacity;