• Melo Acuna

Government has the resources to address COVID-19's impact

Department of Finance says the government has resources to fund anti-COVID-19 measures

MANILA – Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III said the government still has the neded resources to face the COVID-19 pandemic and its harmful impact on the economy.

The statement came after the report of the first semester contraction by 9 percent of the economy. However, Secretary Dominguez said the economy will improve by the second semester of 2020 should all sectors come together to restore consumer confidence and the general public cooperates to stop the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

It will be recalled Metro Manila and other urban centers were placed under strict lockdown in three months from march to prevent the spread of COVID-19 which brought unimaginable health and economic crisis worldwide.

Secretary Dominguez said without continued and increased public-sector spending, particularly on infrastructure, public health and social protection, the first semester gross domestic product (GDP) would have shrunk by a total of 11.5 percent, 2.5 percentage points more than the actual 9 percent.

Government expenditures for 2020’s first half increased by 27 percent year-on-year, increasing to P2.01 trillion compared to P1.59 trillion during the same period last year.

The DOF statement said among the country’s credit-rating peer group first-semester numbers show contradictions among the economies of Italy by 11.6 percent, Mexico by 10.2 percent and Indonesia by 1.2 percent.

“We are not alone in our struggles, although the unique fiscal and macroeconomic strengths with which we entered 2020 will continue to provide us with solid footing as we confront our economic challenges,” Dominguez said during the press briefing of the Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC) to discuss the Philippines’ GDP growth in the second quarter.

He underscored the government’s three-pronged strategy against COVID-19 involving a fiscal stimulus package, a recalibrated national budget for 2021 and the continued massive investment in infrastructure.

It will be recalled President Rodrigo Duterte in several appearances with the IATF mentioned the government has no more resources to spend for COVID-19 related activities including the awaited Social Amelioration program to assist the poorest of the poor.

Efforts to solicit the Department of Finance’s explanation on the chief executive’s claims remained futile as of this writing. (Melo M. Acuña)

Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III. (Screen grab from DBCC Press Conference)

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