Philippines has enough funds to fight COVID-19: Budget chief

Jessica Fenol, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 08 2020 01:56 PM

MANILA - The Philippines has enough funds in its war chest to respond, fight and mitigate the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado said Wednesday.

The government has so far disbursed P374.8 billion to help Filipinos fight the pandemic, Avisado said during a pre-State of the Nation forum. 

"Totoo po na may sapat na pondo ang pamahalan upang tugunan at labanan ang COVID-19 pandemic at ito nga ay napatunayan nung pinasa ng kongreso ang Bayanihan to Heal as One Act," Avisado said. 

(It's true that the country has enough funds to respond and fight the COVID-19 pandemic. This was proven when Congress passed the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act.

With its good credit ratings, the Philippines has the ability to borrow additional funds at low rates and longer payment periods, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said in the same forum.

"Debt is manageable and affordable to us," Dominguez said.

At least 39 countries have suffered from credit ratings downgrade due to the pandemic while S&P and Fitch have affirmed the country's BBB+ rating in addition to Japan Credit Agency's upgraded A- status for the country, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Gov. Benjamin Diokno said.

Aside from good credit ratings, the country's strong fundamentals in 2019 will propel an economic recovery of at least 8 to 9 percent in the coming years, Diokno said.

"The Philippines entered into the global pandemic from a position of strength thus the sound fundamentals will lend support and propel the economy to strong recovery in the coming years," Diokno said.

Although the economy could contract by up to 3.4 percent this year, Diokno said the gross domestic product is poised to recover to between 8 and 9 percent in the coming years.