MANILA (UPDATE ) - The House of Representatives on Thursday approved on third and final reading the P1.3 trillion economic stimulus package earmarked to help keep and generate jobs.
House Bill 6815 or the Accelerated Recovery and Investments Stimulus for the Economy of the Philippines (ARISE) bill was approved, with 216 lawmakers voting yes, 7 objections and zero abstention.
Under the bill, P110 billion will be allocated for wage subsidies, P25 billion for the Labor Department's cash aid program, P5 billion for the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), P27 billion for educational subsidy for students in the tertiary level and P15 billion for students of private schools, among others.
At least P10 billion is earmarked for small and medium enterprises, P58 billion for the tourism sector in the country, some P70 billion for the Transportation department's "Balik Probinsiya" program, and P15 billion for the Department of Agriculture.
Economic managers, lawmakers and business groups have earlier expressed support for various bills proposing economic stimulus packages in light of the serious impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Other pending stimulus bills include the P1.5 trillion COVID-19 Unemployment Reduction Economic Stimulus (CURES), and the Corporate Income Tax and Incentives Rationalization Act (CITIRA).
Marikina City 2nd District Rep. Stella Quimbo, one of the authors of ARISE, said the measure would offer relief to businesses hit hard by the pandemic.
“After not earning revenues for 2 months, businesses’ funds are running dry. The next few months will be crucial. On top of managing financial obligations, businesses must now figure out how to innovate to thrive in the new normal,” she said.
“ARISE provides ways to equip businesses through interest-free loans and grants for education, training, and technical assistance,” she added.
Makabayan bloc lawmakers, however, criticized the Lower House’ approval of the bill.
“Gabriela Women’s Party envisions a stimulus package that places a premium on reversing the decades-old impacts on neoliberal policies which have thrown us into this kind of vulnerability and economic disarray amid the COVID-19 pandemic,” Arlene Brosas, the party-list's representative in Congress, said in a statement.
“Unfortunately, this stimulus bill actually reinforces the same, old economic principles which have hobbled local industrial growth and agricultural development, and that which made our public health system critically impaired under the private sector’s hands,” she added.
–- With reports from Zandro Ochona and RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News