P27.1 billion spending plan readied vs COVID-19, says finance dept

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 17 2020 10:50 AM | Updated as of Mar 17 2020 12:38 PM

Health workers from the Valenzuela City government check the temperatures of motocycle riders entering the checkpoint between Valenzuela City and Meycauayan, Bulacan on March 16, 2020. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - The government allotted P27.1 billion to fund measures against the COVID-19 pandemic and mitigate its economic impact, the Department of Finance said late Monday. 

Aside from funding health initiatives, the package will also provide relief to people and sectors affected by the virus-induced slowdown in economic activity, the DOF said.

“We have enough but limited resources, so our job is to make sure that we have sufficient funds for programs mitigating the adverse effects of COVID-19 on our economy,” Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez said in a statement.

The package includes P3.1 billion for the Department of Health to help stop the spread of COVID-19, including the acquisition of test kits. 

The Department of Labor will spend P2 billion for social protection programs for vulnerable workers, to be used for wage subsidy and financial support to COVID affected establishments and workers. 

The Technical Education and Skills Development Authority’s Scholarship Programs will spend P3 billion to support temporarily displaced workers through skills training programs.

The Social Security System will mobilize P1.2 billion to cover unemployment benefits for displaced workers.

The Department of Agriculture will spend P2.8 billion to provide loans of up to P25,000 each at zero interest for smallholder farmers and fisherfolk.

The Department of Trade and Industry will spend P1 billion for affected micro entrepreneurs/micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs). 

The biggest chunk of the spending package will go to the Department of Tourism, which gets P14 billion.

Several lawmakers earlier urged the government to provide social safety nets for people whose livelihoods and jobs are being affected by COVID-19.

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