SENATOR Imee Marcos on Monday stressed that the government should call for a temporary suspension in the payment of the country’s debts to increase cash aid for individuals and companies affected by a lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Marcos, who chairs the Senate committee on economic affairs, said a debt moratorium is a third measure that the Department of Finance can adopt, besides the budget realignments and international loans it has already announced, to continue funding the government’s social amelioration program while the true duration of the lockdown remains uncertain.
The budget for interest payments on the country’s debts in the General Appropriations Act of 2020 amount to P451 billion, which Marcos said can be used for cash aid by the government under the Bayanihan Heal As One Act.
Marcos added that off-budget payments of P582 billion to amortize the principal amount can also be reserved for cash aid.
More cash aid will be needed if the advance of the global pandemic results in extended lockdowns throughout the world and continues to limit business operations and people’s means of earning a living, Marcos said.
Marcos explained that a debt moratorium is in line with the World Economic Forum’s call for international cooperation in handling the backlash of the COVID-19 crisis, adding that not even the world’s biggest economy, the United States, can deal with the global pandemic on its own.
“Dapat bigyan ng palugit ang mga bansang mas maliit ang ekonomiya at mas mahina ang pamamaraan para sa pagpapagamot ng kanilang mamamayan, lalo na ang mga bansa sa Asya at Africa,” Marcos said.