Senate eyeing other stimulus packages

SENATOR Sonny Angara yesterday said the that the proposed P140-billion Bayanihan 2 law will not be the only stimulus package for mitigating the COVID-19 pandemic.

Angara said the Senate-approved bill will only serve as a mini stimulus package and they are still discussing other bills that will help funding the government's program in combatting COVID 19.

The senator made the explanation after House Assistant Minority Leader Stella Quimbo warned that a piecemeal set of stimulus packages will not be an effective response against COVID-19 because it would mean a more difficult monitoring to ensure the government assistance will reach the target beneficiaries.

“In our discussion with the DOF (Department of Finance) and economic managers, there was an agreement that we can pass the Bayanihan 2 as a mini stimulus package,” said Angara.

“If the situation calls for it or improves…because you have to remember, we were discussing this before the BIR (Bureau of Internal Revenue’s) deadline for paying taxes. Now we would have a better idea how much we can spend moving forward. The premise is, this will be the first piece of stimulus package, but not the only stimulus. That is where we are coming from,” he added. 

Angara, chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance explained that while a bigger amount of stimulus package is ideal, Congress has to pass a law that can be funded.

“What the economic managers asked us to do is to make it realistic. Otherwise, we will be raising expectations of our people, and there will be no money to finance it,” he  further said.

“An unfunded mandate would be a shame. This is a matter of what is doable. We also need to be realistic in our expectation, and I doubt it (Bayanihan 2) will go over P200 billion,” he added.

Based on Bayanihan 2, the Senate is alloting P50 billion for assistance to micro, small and medium enterprises, P32 billion for cash-for-work program and unemployment assistance, P17 billion each for transportation and agriculture sector, P10 billion for tourism, P4 billion for smart campuses and Technical Educations and Skills Development Authority training, among others.