Solon defends P10B allocation for TIEZA

KABALIKAT ng Mamamayan (Kabayan) party-list Rep. Ron Salo on Friday called out tourism stakeholders and business owners opposing the  allocation of the P10-billion fund to the Tourism Infrastructure and  Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA) in the proposed Bayanihan to Recover  as One Act (Bayanihan 2), saying they are prioritizing their own  interests over the needs of the tourism industry and the overall  economic recovery of the country.

"It is unfair for capitalists and big industry players to take  advantage of their network and connections and pretend to be concerned  about the industry when none of the consultations conducted by the  Department of Tourism (DOT) involved workers, employees, and small industry players," Salo said.

"To speak for the industry workers, triskad drivers, van drivers and  operators, carinderia owners, and tour guides reeks of elitism and  hypocrisy. How could you possibly know their needs and how you can  help them when you never asked for their opinion?" He added.

Salo said the allocation of the P10-billion fund to TIEZA in Bayanihan  2 will provide employment to thousands of workers in the provinces —  “a need that the DOT failed to consider in its consultations with its  stakeholders.”

He also scored the critics for wanting “exclusive use of the  P10-billion tourism fund when it can be shared by the thousands of micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) all over the country,  including tourism.”

"Could it be because they want to use public money for their  self-interest or need an illegal bailout of their businesses?" he  said.

Salo said bailouts or doleouts for private firms are not allowed by  law, which is why additional funds were allocated to government  financial institutions that can in turn easily give MSMEs access to  assistance.

"The problem with being so detached from the needs of the ones who  were severely affected by pandemic is that you forget that, while you  may have suffered great loss in your revenue, others are losing their  lives and their livelihoods. The 18th Congress cannot afford to let  that happen," he said

House committee on tourism chairperson and Laguna Rep. Sol Aragones  clarified that the tourism sector would still have access to billions  of pesos under the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act, or Bayanihan 2.

Aragones revealed that Congress had even set up meetings between  tourism stakeholders and government financial institutions so that  they could easily obtain loans to help them survive the adverse  economic impact of the C0VID-19 pandemic.

“Hindi po tinanggal ang working capital na assistance sa ating mga  stakeholders; ito ay maaari pa din nila makuha sa 51 billion pesos na  allocation para sa assistance sa mga government financing  institutions,” said Aragones.

The legislator from Laguna revealed that Congress even stepped in when  it learned that the tourism industry stakeholders had encountered  difficulties in obtaining loans from banks under Bayanihan 1.