COVID fund releases hit P376B

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    Sendoff. Sixty-one overseas Filipino workers are sent home yesterday from the We Heal As One Center at Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija after recovering from COVID-19. (BCDA photo)

    The government’s fund releases for its coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) response has amounted to P376.57 billion, data released by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) showed.

    The DBM data posted on its website showed the said amount accounts for total COVID-19 allotments to agencies as of August 10.

    The Department of Social Welfare and Development accounted for the largest amount with P200.98 billion, followed by the Department of Finance with P88.13 billion and Department of Health with P48.98 billion.

    The Department of Labor and Employment had a share of P12.58 billion, Department of Agriculture with P11.39 billion, Department of Education with P10.91 billion, and Department of National Defense with P1.36 billion.

    Other agencies include Department of Public Works and Highways (P842.66 million), Department of Interior and Local Government (P747.92 million), University of the Philippines – Philippine General Hospital (P400 million), Department of Trade and Industry (P203 million), Department of Science and Technology (P53.23 million), Department of Foreign Affairs (P5.09 million), and Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (P500,000).

    In terms of funding source, P266.53 billion came from discontinued programs, activities, and projects; P9.85 billion from the regular agency budget; and P100.19 billion from special purpose funds.

    Meanwhile, Carlos Dominguez, Department of Finance secretary, said the Philippines may not have one of the biggest economic stimulus packages when compared to other countries but it has performed better compared to some economies owing to its fiscal strengths.

    Citing data , Dominguez said there appears to be no correlation between the size of a country’s stimulus plan and the coronavirus-induced contraction of its economy.

    While the economy shrank by 16.5 percent in the second quarter with a stimulus package at 4.2 to 6.4 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), Malaysia’s economy contracted even more by 17.1 percent in spite of a bigger economic stimulus equivalent to 18.2 percent of its GDP, he noted.

    The United Kingdom’s total stimulus is at 23.4 percent of GDP but its economy went down by 21.7 percent. Sweden’s economy decelerated by 8.2 percent, despite having a bigger stimulus package of between 10.8 and 16.6 percent of GDP, Dominguez said.

    “It appears that no matter how much money countries pump into their economies, their GDP would have shrunk massively, anyway. It is not the sheer size of the stimulus package that matters now but also whether it is actually saving the productive parts of the economy,” Dominguez said in his message to participants of the 29th North Luzon Area Business Conference, which was organized online via Zoom by the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

    “This is because the problem is not a systemic contraction or a cyclical bust. Simply, necessary mobility restrictions hamper aggregate demand,” he added.

    Dominguez said the economy can recover if the country can keep the pandemic at bay so that tough restrictions such as widescale lockdowns are no longer necessary.

    “Preventing outbreaks in the workplace is as much a lifesaving responsibility as it is good business practice,” he reminded businessmen at the conference.