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Extending unspent funds validity good for economy

A BICOL congressman has said that President Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte’s signing of laws extending the validity of unspent funds under both the 2020 General Appropriations Act (GAA) and the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act (Bayanihan 2) will let the government further accelerate public spending and fast-track the recovery of the domestic economy from the pandemic-induced global economic turmoil.

In welcoming the President’s enactment into law of both congressional bills that he co-authored, Camarines Sur Rep. Lray Villafuerte said that increased public investments are needed to jumpstart economic activity and boost consumer spending, especially amid the reality that “we still have a long way to go before this lingering lethal virus is defeated across the globe.”

“Mass vaccination against coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19) in the Philippines will not likely be completed in a year’s time, which is why we need to remain vigilant against transmission and to continue spending big on risk management and fiscal stimulus measures that will reinvigorate the economy, restore business and consumer confidence, and help people and businesses get back on their feet as quickly as possible,” said Villafuerte who was the lead author in the House of Representatives of the Bayanihan To Heal as One Act (Bayanihan 1) and Bayanihan 2.

Villafuerte, who sponsored separate bills extending the validity of Bayanihan 2 and the 2020 GAA, said “the government needs to spend a lot more on measures to stimulate economic activity, provide relief to pandemic-hit businesses and boost consumer spending amid forecasts by institutions like the World Bank and Moody’s Analytics that it will be a slow recovery for the Philippines that has not been spending as much as its neighbors on fiscal stimulus programs.”

He issued the statement as Malacañang announced on Wednesday the President’s enactment of Republic Act (RA) 11520, which extended the availability of the P4.1-trillion 2020 GAA 2020 until Dec. 31, 2021; and RA 11519, which stretched the availability of funds appropriated through the Bayanihan 2 until June 30, 2021.

In HB 8173—one of the House bills extending the effectivity of Bayanihan 2—Villafuerte explained that the extension shall “give the government the opportunity to continuously implement the recovery and stimulus programs specified in Bayanihan 2, most especially in allocating funds for more essential necessary and relevant items and expenses to recover from the distressing effects of this global pandemic.”

He said in HB 8173 that the extension will also cover “the other powers provided under the said law that will enable the government to provide emergency assistance for vulnerable groups and individuals, expand medical resources to fight Covid-19, and finance emergency initiatives keeping the economy inundated.”

Villafuerte also pushed last year the approval of a Bayanihan 3 bill, this time for special funds for the massive rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts in his home-region of Bicol and other areas in Luzon pummeled by the three strong powerful storms—Quinta, Rolly and Ulysses—that hit the country in quick succession in the last quarter of 2020.

‘The country coming to an end from this public health crisis is yet improbable and unforeseeable. There still persists a threat not only to the people’s livelihoods but most importantly to one’s precious life,” Villafuerte said.