DoF chief assures funds for Covid-19 response

April 13, 2020

The government has come up to date with about P1.17 trillion worth of fiscal and monetary measures to help Filipinos combat the effect of the coronavirus disease pandemic.

This was reiterated by Finance Sec. Carlos Dominguez III during the televised briefing of President. Duterte along with several Cabinet officials.

“We have a long breakdown of how we have this program but mostly, it was to provide subsidies for the low-income families and workers of the small and medium enterprises,” Dominguez  said, citing that these fiscal and monetary measures account for about five percent  to six  percent of domestic output.

These measures include the P205 billion realigned so far from this year’s national budget as mandated by the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, and the P300 billion used by the Bangko Sentral to purchase government securities that would  be repurchased within six months, which would  boost the national government’s funding capacity;

Also, the 200-basis point reduction in universal and commercial banks  reserve requirement ratio  that is seen to release about P180 billion worth of liquidity into the economy; and the total of 75 basis points cut in the central bank’s key policy rates that should be reflected to lower interest rates by banks and other financial institutions.

Funds gathered from the realigned budget were allocated for, among others, the P5,000 to P8,000 cash aid for poor households.

Dominguez said they have also spent about P600 million for healthcare and Covid-19 items.

Aside from ensuring that there is a fund for Covid-19 response, he said they are also “working on our recovery or our bounce back program”.

He said a survey is now being conducted, which has so far attracted 44,000 respondents, to check on what sectors incurred huge damage from the pandemic.

“We are also coming up with a program to continuously borrow more money to support the Philippine economy and our fight against this Covid-19,” the DoF chief said.

Dominguez further said they have so far talked with people from the Asian Development Bank  and the World Bank about the $5.6-billion loan. 

He said economic managers are also considering tapping commercial fund sources if the loans from multilateral lenders would not be enough.

He also expressed confidence that if ever they would  decide to push through with this, the interest rates would  be low because of the improvement of the country’s credit rating, with the highest to date at BBB+ investment grade.

“So we are confident that we have the financial capability to bridge this problem that the Covid-19 has brought us,” he added.

Dominguez further said that while the government has the funds to address the current situation, the available funds are not infinite thus, the need to “spend it correctly, and not on wasteful expenditures”.

“So the program is to spend: first, to help the poorest families; and then to help the small and medium enterprises; and then to provide support for the companies that are supported by their banks,” he added