Sat. Sep 18th, 2021

MANILA – The government will not ask Congress for a supplemental budget for coronavirus disease (Covid-19) response due to lack of additional revenues.  

During the virtual Malacanang Palace briefing Thursday, Budget and Management Secretary Wendel Avisado said there are still lots of financing requirements to address the Covid-19 response, but they “will just make do” with what the government currently has.

“Sa ngayon po hindi po natin puwedeng gawin iyan dahil ang requirement po ng supplemental budget ay mayroon tayong new source of revenues or taxes at pangalawa, kung mayroong excess sa collection natin. In both cases, wala po. So wala pong pagbabasehan ang ating pinag-iisipang supplemental budget (We cannot do that right now because the requirement for a supplemental budget is if we have a new source of revenues or taxes and second, if we have excess in our collection. In both cases, we don’t have one. So our plan for a supplemental budget has no basis),” he said.

Avisado said what they need to utilize is the combination of monetary and fiscal policies that can still be tapped.

Under the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, Congress allowed the government to pool funds from lesser important projects to have the needed financing for Covid-19 response.

These include the distribution of financing aid amounting to PHP5,000 to PHP8,000 to about 18 million low-income households nationwide during the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) that started in March 15 in Metro Manila and the mainland Luzon on March 17 until May 12, 2020.

Other areas around the country also implemented different levels of community quarantine to address the spread of the virus.

Most areas around the country have eased movement restrictions for people but community quarantines remain in place.

As of May 28, Avisado said the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) has released a total of PHP353.86 billion for the Covid-19 response.

Of the total, about PHP246.526 billion came from pooled savings, PHP96.717 billion from unprogrammed appropriation, and PHP10.615 billion from reprogramming of beneficiaries and purpose of existing programs, activities, and projects.

Bulk or about PHP196.04 billion of the funds from pooled savings has been released to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) for the Social Amelioration Program (SAP), PHP30.823 billion for the Bayanihan Grant for Cities and Municipalities program, PHP6.197 billion for the Bayanihan Grant for Provinces, PHP8.5 billion for the Ahon Lahat, Pagkaing Sapat (ALPAS) program  of the Department of Agriculture, PHP1.912 billion for the procurement of RT-PCR- SARS COV-2 detection kits by the Department of Health (DOH), PHP2.5 billion for Department of Labor and Employment’s (DOLE) Covid-19 Adjustment Measures Program (CAMP) for overseas Filipino workers.

Also, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) has been given some PHP93.099 million and the Department of National Defense (DND) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), PHP150.702 million for their operational requirements of temporary treatment and monitoring facilities; and the University of the Philippines-Philippine General Hospital (UP-PGH), PHP400 million, to augment their operational budget.

From the unprogrammed appropriations, about PHP51 billion has been released for the Department of Finance’s (DOF) Small Business Wage Subsidy Measure, while about PHP45.717 billion has been released to DOH for supplemental funding for the health sector.

Avisado said they are still awaiting the reports from the various government agencies regarding the utilization of their own funds to help in the government’s Covid-19 response program. (PNA)

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