Immediate passage of economic stimulus bill sought

THE Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is seeking the urgent passage of the proposed Philippine Economic Stimulus Act of 2020 (PESA), which aims to provide immediate assistance to workers and businesses and help the economy recover from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez, in a statement sent to SunStar Pampanga, stressed the assistance needed by workers and businesses adversely impacted by the pandemic as we gradually reopen as the economy slowly reopens.

Through the bill, Lopez said the government will be able to provide working capital assistance, technical and entrepreneurial education, and financial management, among others to needy workers.

“In this way, we will be able to protect Filipinos by ensuring businesses will continue operating post-lockdown and help turn the tide for businesses and workers affected by the health crisis,” he added.

Under the PESA bill, the government will earmark P1.3T as a post-pandemic stimulus package, which includes a budget of P650 B for an expanded infrastructure program on health care, education, and food security, Lopez said.

He also noted that the proposed law will allot: P300 B for the National Emergency and Investment Corp., which seeks to “minimize the damage” wrought by Covid-19 to the economy; P200 B for wage subsidies and the grant of interest-free loans to assist micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), including businesses labeled “non-essential” during the lockdown; as well as P128 B for the Credit Mediation and Restructuring Guarantee Fund, an expanded loan program that will cover all “critically-impacted businesses” nationwide, among others.

He explained that the bill is aimed at restoring business confidence and operations, as well as preventing business closure prior to the imposition of the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ).

“Businesses have already lost a significant amount of income due to the challenges in logistics brought about by the ECQ,” Lopez said.

He said that, “As we work towards the gradual lifting of the quarantine, more businesses will be able to operate, but at lower capacities due to limited capital resources that dwindled during the quarantine period. There are also strict health measures that are being imposed and the firms would need working capital loans.”

“At a very critical time such as this, we must not only ensure a safe working environment for our citizens, but also continue to find means to support, and more importantly save the jobs of those adversely affected to facilitate faster economic recovery,” Lopez added.


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