House sets measures for economic recovery

Alan Peter Cayetano

WHEN the second regular session opens next week, the House of Representatives will be focusing on measures that will boost the country’s economic recovery amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano said the House of Representatives is looking at a three-step strategy to achieve its goal.

According to Cayetano, the government’s economic managers and House leaders have agreed to approve the “Bayanihan to Recover as One” or Bayanihan II but they are still negotiating to increase the fund allocation to P200 billion.

“Mayroon nang agreement in P140 billion immediately, and about one-third or half of it will go to banks that will help [give] loan with small and medium and micro businesses,” he said.

“Finance Secretary Sonny Dominguez doesn’t want us to be irresponsible, so dun kami nag-uusap na saan ‘yung line between being irresponsible and being too conservative,” Cayetano added during his CNN Philippines interview.

He said as a second strategy, the House is looking at the 2021 budget as a tool to fund programs that will facilitate faster and better services to help save the lives and livelihoods of Filipinos.

The By JesterHouse will also pursue separate stimulus measures such as the Accelerated Recovery and Investments Stimulus for the Economy (ARISE) and the COVID-19 Unemployment Reduction Economic Stimulus (CURES) Act of 2020.

Cayetano said the ARISE measure, which was spearheaded by House Committee on Ways and Means Chairman Joey Salceda, Rep. Stella Quimbo, and House Committee Chairman of Economic Affairs Rep. Sharon Garin, has proposed P1.3 trillion to finance various programs that will provide assistance and wage subsidies to micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) and the tourism and transport sectors.

He said of the total amount allocated under ARISE, P650 billion will be used to fund the enhanced Build, Build, Build program for the next three years starting in 2021.

“‘Yung ARISE, I think, the final was towards a trillion pesos, then ‘yung CURES, which is an infrastructure development [program], is almost, is a little bit over a trillion pero three to five years ‘yun, hindi one-year spending,” Cayetano said.

The CURES bill proposes a total of P1.5 trillion to step up infrastructure development programs that will create more jobs in the rural areas affected by the pandemic. The program will be implemented for three years with a P500-billion budget allocated for each year.

The measure seeks to fund projects under the HEAL-IT sector which includes health, education, agriculture, local roads, infrastructure, livelihood, information and communication technology, and tourism.