COVID response hits P2.66T

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    The government’s direct response to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic in 2020 has amounted to P2.66 trillion, equivalent to 14.7 percent of the country’s gross domestic product, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez said.

    At the virtual inaugural meeting of the Management Association of the Philippines yesterday, Dominguez said the figure supports the Duterte administration’s four-pillar socioeconomic strategy against COVID-19.

    “This includes the largest social protection program in history that provided emergency cash grants to low-income families and wage subsidies to workers in small businesses,” Dominguez said.

    “We expanded medical resources to fight COVID-19 and ensured the safety of our frontliners.

    Fiscal and monetary actions were undertaken to keep the economy afloat and support recovery initiatives,” he added.

    Under pillar 1, or the emergency support for vulnerable groups, the amount spent is P506.08 billion; for pillar 2, which covers marshalling resources to fight COVID-19, P57.73 billion; under pillar 3, which contains monetary actions to keep the economy afloat, P1.3 trillion; and for pillar 4, which focuses on an economic recovery program to create jobs and sustain growth, P791.61 billion.

    “Funds were made available to provide cash-for-work programs, and assist affected industries.

    We infused additional capital into government financial institutions for them to lend more money to productive sectors of the economy,” Dominguez said.

    Meanwhile, Dominguez said the government targets to vaccinate 70 million Filipinos against the COVID-19, a portion of which will require the help of local government units (LGUs) and the private sector.

    “We have 110 million Filipinos, and around 40 million are below the ages of 18, and it is not recommended that teenagers and below get the vaccine, so that leaves you with 70 million Filipinos potentially to vaccinate,” Dominguez said.

    “Now, the amount of money that we have raised so far, we have a total budget of P82.5 billion.

    But we have already in place P75 billion. I figure that a conservative cost of inoculation per individual is going to be around P1,300 per individual, so you will be able to vaccinate around 57 million people out of this 70 million who are supposed to be vaccinated,” he added.

    That leaves 13 million left to be inoculated.

    “We expect the 13 million to be covered by the LGUs, the private sector, and of course, in there are the refusants, or the guys who don’t believe in vaccination. So basically, we are going to be covered,” Dominguez said.

    He said P12.5 billion of the government’s budget for the vaccination program will come from the national budget, while P62.5 billion will be sourced from multilateral lenders. – Angela Celis