Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Raymund Villafuerte said a third cash subsidy for the families hardest hit by the global economic turmoil unleashed by COVID-19 was “necessary at this point to boost household income amid the elevated unemployment and inflation or spike in food prices resulting from the lingering pandemic.”
He said the government recently reported around 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 these unused and unobligated funds, which are under the 2020 and 2021 General Appropriations Acts.
House Bill 8597 or the BPP Assistance Program that was primarily authored by former Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and Taguig Rep. Lani Cayetano aims to treat the cash assistance given to qualified families as “capital” that would help stimulate consumption and revitalize the economy.
“Imagine if we inject P200 billion into the economy now. That would pump-prime it,” said Villafuerte, one of the other members of the Cayetano-led independent majority bloc BTS sa Kongreso who co-authored HB 8597.
“That money will circulate and will be used to buy necessities and will be used for livelihoods and businesses while we wait for the Covid-19 vaccine for our mass immunization program.”
Villafuerte was one of the co-authors of the laws extending the validity of the 2020 GAA and the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act or Bayanihan 2.
Under the proposed BPP, the priority beneficiaries for the P10,000 cash grant are the poorest of the poor, senior citizens, people with disabilities, solo parents, displaced workers, medical frontliners, families of Filipino workers abroad, individuals who were not able to secure aid through the Social Amelioration Program under Bayanihan 1, Philippine National ID holders and members of vulnerable groups.
Villafuerte said the high unemployment rate and the rising prices of food and other basic commodities as reflected in the elevated inflation levels underscored the need for Congress to swiftly approve the BPP bill.
Driven by high food prices, the inflation rate rose to 4.2 percent in January, which was above the forecast range of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas of 3.3 percent to 4.1 percent.
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