Bangon aid plan assured of funds

Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Ray Villafuerte said Sunday the funds for the proposed Bangon Pamilyang Pilipino assistance program to provide low-income and vulnerable households with P10,000 in cash assistance are available under the unused appropriations and unobligated funds in the national budget.

He said a third cash subsidy for the families hardest hit by the global economic turmoil due to the COVID-19 pandemic was “necessary to help boost household income amid the loss of jobs and the inflation in food prices.

The government recently reported P452 billion in unused funds from the 2020 national budget and P204 million in its unobligated cash balance, he said.

The proposed cash aid’s budget would be sourced from the unused and unobligated funds under the 2020 and 2021 General Appropriations Act.

“Imagine if we inject P200 billion into the economy now, that would pump-prime it,” Villafuerte said.

“That money will circulate to buy necessities and to be used for livelihood and businesses while we wait for the COVID-19 vaccine for our mass immunization program.”

Villafuerte said the high unemployment rate and escalating prices of food and other basic commodities underscored the need for the House of Representatives to immediately approve the BPP bill.

On Friday, the Department of Labor and Employment asked for more funds for wage subsidies this year for the workers who lost their jobs or suffered a loss in income as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In an online press briefing, Labor Assistant Secretary Dominique Tutay said the 2021 national budget did not provide for such a wage subsidy, which would run for about three months.

In the same press briefing, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said 1.6 million Filipinos had yet to return to the jobs that they held before the pandemic.

Tutay said they based the budget of the subsidy program on the average wage of workers in different sectors. The amount, he said, would be between P7,000 and P11,000 a month for three months.

She said the department’s request to the Department of Budget and Management would cover 25 percent to 75 percent of the workers’ monthly wages.

This would translate to a budget of P62 billion to P188 billion, she said.

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