A three-year, 1.5 trillion peso economic stimulus bill, dubbed “Bayanihan 3,” has been tabled in the 19th Congress.
One of the authors of the measure, Camarines Sur 2nd District Rep. LRay Villafuerte, said the proposed economic stimulus package was inspired by presumptive House Speaker, Leyte 1st District Rep. Martin Romualdez, who previously said the 19th Congress’ priority legislation will be a Bayan Bangon Muli (BBM) bill modeled after the Bayanihan to Heal as One (Bayanihan 1) and Bayanihan to Recover as One (Bayanihan 2) laws that passed quickly in 2020 in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
House Bill (HB) No.271 has been introduced, or the National Economic Stimulus and Recovery Bill of 2022. It is intended to support President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.’s “global and comprehensive plan for economic transformation” declared in his inaugural address last June 30 – and his commitment to continue the infrastructure modernization program “Build, Build, Build” from the previous Duterte administration.
Incidentally, Villafuerte, a former vice president of the House, was the author of the two previous Bayanihan bills that were essential to national survival during the early stages of the pandemic.
The other authors of HB No.271 are his colleagues Camarines Sur Reps. Tsuyoshi Anthony Horibata and Miguel Luis Villafuerte, and Bicol Saro Party-list Rep. Nicolas Enciso VIII.
Villafuerte said this proposed stimulus package of 1.5 trillion pesos will allow President Marcos to maintain the unparalleled high spending on infrastructure development initiated by his predecessor, “but this time those investments will be focused on construction and lending. improvement of facilities for HEAL IT, which stands for Health, Education, Agriculture, Livelihoods, Information Technology (IT) and Tourism”.
Under HB No. 271, government infrastructure spending should be primarily geared towards maximizing the direct and indirect creation and maintenance of jobs, especially in the countryside. “Anchored on the principle that the poor benefit from employment and income opportunities, this measure will prioritize funding for projects that target the construction of infrastructure down to the barangay level,” the authors said.
They said these huge infrastructure projects must be undertaken in conjunction with the “Balik Probinsiya program”, which Villafuerte said was designed (1) to spur growth in the countryside through investments in rural infrastructure which create many jobs, and (2) to decongest cities by encouraging job seekers to stay in their localities and workers from urban areas or overseas to return home and work in their province.
“Infrastructure will be the backbone of our economy according to the ideas of almost every respected economist and recognized policy maker. Therefore, while palliative measures such as cash transfers, unemployment benefits, relief and other forms of immediate improvement support are undoubtedly needed now, it is in the interest of the government, the private sector and the Filipino people as a whole that a lasting remedy for economic resilience be established,” they stressed.
The Bayanihan 3 measure aims to establish a special fund – known as the National Economic Recovery and Recovery Fund – which will be disbursed primarily for the implementation of infrastructure projects in the six priority areas of HEAL IT.
The budget for this recovery fund for approved projects will be automatically disbursed to the execution unit in order to facilitate the start-up and completion of projects and to remove existing regulations and emissions that would prevent them.
Of the proposed credit of 1.5 trillion pesos for the recovery fund over three years, 500 billion pesos will be released in the first year of the approval of the measure, an additional 500 billion pesos in the second year and 500 billion pesos additional in the third and final year.
After three years, Congress will enact new legislation extending or amending this or terminating the fund. In the latter case, the uncommitted balance is made available for general budgetary purposes in the year following its end.
The bill proposes the creation of a cluster executive committee to formulate guidelines on the use of the stimulus fund, and which will have the presidential adviser for flagship programs as chair, the secretaries of public works and finance as co-vice-presidents, and the chief executive of the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) as head of the secretariat.
This proposed cluster executive committee will periodically compile all reports from implementing departments/agencies and submit them, within 25 days at the end of each semester, to the Office of the President (OP) as well as the offices of the President of the Senate. and from the Mr. President, a semi-annual report on the status of projects financed by the recovery fund.
“The recovery of the national economy will be underpinned by sustained public spending across all sectors, with a focus on new private and public infrastructure works that will be propelled by the Marcos administration with the flagship BBM program” , said the four solon authors. .
Citing a report by the Philippine Institute of Development Studies (PIDS), the authors of HB No.271 said weaker global and domestic demand during the pandemic had cost the Philippine economy between $276.3 billion pesos in best-case scenarios and 2.5 trillion pesos in worst-case scenarios, with transport, warehousing, communications, services, tourism, and wholesale and retail absorbing substantial losses.
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