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DBM still working on how to fund third stimulus package

THE DEPARTMENT of Budget and Management (DBM) said it is still seeking to identify funding sources for the third economic stimulus package, proposed at P405 billion, as the legislation goes before the House appropriations committee this week.

In an interview with DZBB Sunday, Budget Secretary Wendel E. Avisado said the department is not opposed to the House of Representatives’ desire to pass the Bayanihan to Arise as One bill, known informally as Bayanihan III, but added that its primary concern is finding the money.

Bakit nga ba hindi? Ang issue nga lang, kailangang pag-usapan kung saan manggagaling ng pondo gugulin diyan (Why not? The issue is we need to discuss where the funding will come from),” he said.

He added that there are currently three operating budgets that are focused on addressing the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. These are allocations from the 2021 national budget; realigned funds from the 2020 national budget; and the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act, or Bayanihan II.

In a message to BusinessWorld Sunday, Marikina City Rep. Stella Luz A. Quimbo said the passage of the bill will be a priority once the House resumes session. The bill was approved by its originating panel, the joint Committees on Economic Affairs and Social Services, late last month. The Committee on Ways and Means also approved the measure last week.

“The Committee on Rules will decide on the agenda when we resume on May 17, but I hope that Bayanihan III will be taken up on the floor by then. This of course assumes that the Substitute bill gets taken up by the Committee on Appropriations this week and subsequently, the committee report is approved by the mother committee,” she said.

As one of the proponents of Bayanihan III, she said around P63 billion has been committed by the Department of Finance (DoF) from government-owned and -controlled corporations (GOCCs).

“What DoF has committed so far is about P63 billion from GOCCs excluding government financial institutions (GFI). We hope that they can also sweep up excess capital (from) GFIs.”

She added that Bayanihan III needs to be passed immediately as Bayanihan II is set to expire next month.

Ms. Quimbo said last week that the three operating budgets cited by the DBM are insufficient to fund plans to distribute cash aid under Bayanihan III, which will provide P216 billion to all citizens regardless of social status — more than half the value of the third package. — Gillian M. Cortez

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