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House proposes P420B for Bayanihan III stimulus

LEGISLATORS at the House of Representatives proposed a third stimulus worth P420 billion, which would be the largest of the Bayanihan series of stimulus packages if passed.

Speaker Lord Allan Jay Q. Velasco and Marikina City 2nd District Representative Stella Luz A. Quimbo filed House Bill (HB) No. 8628, which if passed will be known as the Bayanihan to Arise as One Act (Bayanihan III).

They said the first two Bayanihan laws were insufficient to resuscitate the economy after the pandemic.

The Bayanihan to Heal as One Act (Bayanihan I) was signed in March and authorized the President to repurpose about P275 billion worth of budget items to pandemic-containment programs. The Bayanihan to Recover as One Act (Bayanihan II) was signed in September and allocated up to P165 billion to revive the economy.

Legislators typically propose large stimulus packages at the bill-writing stage, with the total whittled down as government economic managers provide their input on the resources available to the government.   

In a statement, Mr. Velasco said Bayanihan III will help the economy gain momentum as it gradually reopens after the lockdowns of 2020. He added the two earlier Bayanihan laws were “not sufficient” to effect a recovery.

“Given that actual economic output in 2020 was far below what was assumed for budget purposes, and further losses may still be incurred as the COVID-19 pandemic is expected to prevail well into the current fiscal year, an additional economic stimulus package is needed to help the government meet its recovery targets for the year,” he said.

The P420-billion economic recovery package includes P108 billion for social amelioration program assistance to families affected by the pandemic; P100 billion for capacity-building among establishments in critically-impacted industries; P70 billion in capacity-building for workers in the agriculture sector; and P52 billion for subsidies to help small businesses meet their obligations to employees.

The stimulus bill also includes P30 billion for the labor department’s programs for the unemployed; P30 billion for internet expenses for educational institutions; and P5 billion for the rehabilitation of typhoon-affected areas.

Mr. Velasco said most of the House supports the measure.

“So far, 115 members of major political parties and power blocs comprising the supermajority in the House of Representatives have expressed their support and signified their intent to co-author HB 8628.” — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza

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