DOF admits, no allocation for cash aid

DOF admits, no allocation for cash aid

By Fernan Angeles

MILLIONS of families in areas under strict lockdown should brace for the bad news – the government has not allocated funds for cash aid for those who will be affected by the two-week return of Metro Manila and its adjacent provinces to modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ).

In a press briefing, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez’s doubts if there will be a third round of cash subsidies for vulnerable sectors in MECQ areas: “It was not anticipated and it’s not in the budget…” The President on Sunday night placed Metro Manila, Laguna, Cavite, Rizal, and Bulacan under MECQ from August 4 to 18 following pleas from the medical community for a “breather” amid rising Covid-19 cases being admitted to hospitals.

In an apparent effort to appease what would be a public outrage over his pronouncement, Dominguez said that while a third round of cash aid is not in the books, the economic team “will check if we can put it in the Bayanihan 2 law.”

Interestingly, the House of Representatives on Wednesday approved on second reading its version of the Bayanihan to Recover as Once Act, without any stipulation on cash aid for millions of families in areas under MECQ. It only outlined P162 billion worth of response interventions to help the country recover from the blows of the Covid-19 crisis, and boost the economy.

However, Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado claims otherwise as he reiterated that the government has enough funds to support the requirements of the vulnerable sector. Avisado echoed Dominguez’s statement that the economic team will include cash subsidy for those affected by the two-week return to MECQ in the Bayanihan 2.

During the same briefing, Dominguez reiterated the economic team’s stance that the government can only finance P140, plus P40 billion in tax credits under the CREATE, worth of stimulus package for 2020. “This stimulus package includes roughly P40 billion in tax credits for everybody. We want to lower corporate income tax by 5 percentage points and that will leave P40 billion in the hands of the private sector, more especially the MSMEs,” he said.

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