The government is set to release the additional funds for financial support to the vulnerable sector affected by the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic early next month.
“The next PHP170 billion actually will be released towards the beginning of May,” Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said.
The first portion of the financial aid amounting to P100 billion is now being distributed to affected households.
Cabinet Sec. Karlo Nograles said about 50 percent of the initial funds for the social amelioration program has been distributed.
These include the P323 million for about 14,400 drivers and members of the various transport groups in the National Capital Region, the P43 billion transferred to local government units, and about P800 million for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
Dominguez said the government’s four-pillar socioeconomic program strategy amounts to about P1.1 billion and the SAP is part of the first pillar.
He said the government has sufficient funds for these programs and if additional funding is needed, they can tap the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, and even the commercial lenders for this.
“We have actually planned until the end of May for financing. I’m not saying that we will extend it beyond April 30 but our plan has been really to fund our requirements to beat this Covid from April and May,” he said.
Dominguez said government executives hope they can start opening the economy by early May since the enhanced community quarantine in Luzon will end on April 30.
He, however, stressed the need to determine the potential risks of opening the economy by that time amid the new infections that might engulf the health facilities “that’s why, we have to be very careful when we evaluate how and when we are going to open up our economy”.
He stressed that if ever the government extends anew the quarantine period, “we will make sure that there will be enough funds to support those decisions”.
“But again, we are watching this very carefully as most countries in the world are. We’re watching this very carefully and we’re moving very conservatively,” he added.