MANILA - The Philippines needs a third stimulus package to help sustain micro and small businesses that generate jobs and income for millions of Filipinos, a lawmaker, who filed a third Bayanihan measure in the House of Representatives, said Friday.
Half of Marikina Rep. Stella Quimbo's proposed P400-billion Bayanihan 3 would be allocated for "firms that have closed shops or are about to close shop" to ensure that the government "could protect jobs."
"The difference with my proposal is this time, we also need to target small businesses," Quimbo told ANC's Matters of Fact.
"Ayuda is not sustainable. We need to give the fishermen not the fish, but the equipment to fish," she said.
Micro, small and medium enterprises account for 99 percent of all businesses and 61 percent of total employment in the Philippines, according to data from the Department of Labor and Employment.
"[It] is really intended to help firms do that pivot or do digital transformation, which as you know, is what we need to survive the pandemic," Quimbo said.
Some P70 billion or about a quarter of the fund under the proposed Bayanihan 3 will be allocated for cash aid for typhoon victims, as well as additional funds for the rehabilitation of infrastructure in areas devastated by a series of calamities that hit the country in the last quarter of 2020, she said.
At least P100 billion will also be allotted to continue to the government's cash aid for poor families, while P5 billion will be earmarked for "internet allowances for teachers and students," she said.
"It's a mix of a pandemic response and disaster response... as long as we have a pandemic, we need to tie them over," said Quimbo, who chairs the House ad hoc committee on Economic Stimulus Response Package.
The Marikina representative said she is confident that the government can generate enough money to fund a third stimulus package.
"If we look at how much of the funds from the 2020 budget continue to be undisbursed today, and if we look at the total amount loans we have as well as projected revenues, I am confident that that P400 billion is something we can afford," she said.
Senate and House leaders earlier said that Congress is planning to extend the validity of the 2020 budget and the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act (Bayanihan 2) to ensure that unused funds can still be used until next year.