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Plan to tap GOCCs for stimulus clears House panel

THE HOUSE Committee on Ways and Means has approved a proposal to tap government companies’ dividends more extensively to fund the third stimulus package.

The sourcing of funds from government-owned and -controlled corporations (GOCCs) was approved by the panel in passing the revenue generation provisions of the unnumbered substitute bill that, if approved, will enter the books as the Bayanihan to Arise as One Act, known informally as Bayanihan III, according to a statement issued by the committee’s chairman, Albay Rep. Jose Ma. Clemente S. Salceda.

The bill hurdled the House Committee on Economic Affairs and Social Services last week and will be referred to the House Committee on Appropriations.

The Ways and Means committee approved a provision authorizing the Secretary of Finance to submit a list of GOCCs to the Joint Executive-Legislative Bayanihan Council, which will then endorse the list to the President. The GOCCs on the list will be required to increase their dividend payouts beyond the 50% required by law.

The President will also have the authority to withdraw capital from GOCCs.

Mr. Salceda has called for a temporary increase in the GOCC dividend payout to 75%, which will require amendments to Republic Act 7656.

Another revenue provision approved by the committee would authorize the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas to make direct advances to the government in financing measures authorized by law that will address the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) containment effort.

In a separate statement on Monday, Mr. Salceda said the committee hopes to “keep the fiscal deficit in check” by identifying other sources of funds for the third Bayanihan stimulus package.

Other sources being looked at are taxes on online cockfighting and Philippine Offshore Gaming Operations, he said.

The third stimulus package, which follows the Bayanihan to Heal as One and Bayanihan to Recover as One laws, known as Bayanihan I and II respectively, is being touted as an aid package for households and industries severely affected by the economic downturn caused by the pandemic. — Gillian M. Cortez

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