Bicam approves recovery fund

THE bicameral conference committee yesterday approved a reconciled version of the proposed We Recover as One Act or Bayanihan 2.

Both Senate and House of Representatives agreed to allocate P140 billion as regular appropriation and additional P25 billion as standby funds.

After both chambers’ ratification, the bill goes to Malacanang for President Duterte’s signing.

The Bayanihan 2 seeks to provide government with response and recovery plan  in addressing the coronavirus disease (COVId-19) pandemic.

Once Congress ratifies the reconciled measure, it will be sent immediately to President Rodrigo Duterte for signing into law.

The appropriations are aimed at boosting the economy and helping several sectors and agencies adversely affected by the pandemic. 

Based on reports, the two panels haf intense debates on the contentious provision for the P10 billion assistance to the tourism sector.

The Senate  wanted th P10 billion to be given to Department of Tourism to provide financial  assistance to tourism-related businesses and workers while the House of Representatives wanted to use the funds for infrastrucrure projects under the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA).

The bicam later agreed to divide the P10 billion: P6 billion to be earmarked for soft loans for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in the tourism sector; P3 billion goes to the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) for displaced workers and P1 billion to the Deprtment of Public Works and Highways for tourism infrastructure. 

The bulk of the increases in the proposed stimulus package will be allocated to the Department of Health (DoH) for hiring emergency personnel and to the DoLE for its cash-for-work program.