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Gov’t told to address underspending amid COVID-19 pandemic

THE GOVERNMENT should look at underspending issues before it starts talks of a third stimulus package to help sectors hit by a coronavirus pandemic, according to a senator.

“The government should look at the first step in spending the funds,” Senator Francis N. Pangilinan told an online news briefing in Filipino on Thursday.

The senator noted that the Agriculture department had only spent a quarter of its P24-billion budget under the government’s second stimulus package as of December.

The law, which granted up to P165 billion worth of assistance to various sectors, expired on December 19. Congress later extended the law for six more months until June 30.

A third stimulus package has been filed in both Houses of Congress seeking an additional P485 billion in assistance.

Mr. Pangilinan said he would file a resolution seeking to look into the underspending of government funds, particularly those meant to help the government fight the pandemic.

He also urged the Executive branch to form an inter-agency committee that will monitor underspending and come up with plans to hasten expenditure.

“We intend to file a separate resolution to look at the spending,” he said. “What can be done to hasten the spending? What targets should be put in place?”

The Budget Department earlier said it had released P109.15 billion under the second stimulus package as of Dec. 29. — Charmaine A. Tadalan

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