THERE is no need for another stimulus measure as the government can bank on unused Bayanihan to Recover as One Act and national budget allocations.
Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez said the budget gap for 2021 accounts for about 8.9 percent of the country gross domestic product. It can be assumed that whatever was not spent from the 2020 budget plus whatever was not spent in the Bayanihan 2 (Bayanihan to Recover as One Act) will be extended to next year.
So that leaves us with a very, very tight fiscal situation. Bayanihan 2 will expire in mid-December.
The unspent budget from this year’s national budget along with those from Bayanihan 2 will be around P213 billion. That would be the stimulus for next year.
Some sectors are raising the need for another stimulus package or Bayanihan 3 after noting the need to further help sectors affected by the virus-induced pandemic.
Earlier, economic managers want to spend the national budget judiciously and ensure fiscal discipline to protect, among others, the country’s investment-grade rating.
They want to keep the budget gap at a manageable level of up to 9 percent, Dominguez said.
Consumer education on digital payments and fund transfers needs to be strengthened for more people to embrace this system, which registered strong uptake after Luzon was placed under lockdown in the first half of 2020.
Managing Director Yang Yang Zhang said ensuring regulators are briefed on what the company wants to introduce to help the startups ecosystem is also important.
“Ultimately, we hope that along the way, as we build up this startup ecosystem, try to accelerate its growth, and really expand the digital commerce industry here. We also want to make sure that we are participating in active dialogue so that regulators are always abreast of evolving technological innovations,” she said.
Indonesia-based financial technology firm Xendit, which also operates in other Southeast Asian countries, is expanding its operations here through a partnership with GrabPay Philippines, among others.
GrabPay wallet utilizes Xendit Direct Debit that allows the former’s customer to link their bank account to top up their GrabPay balance.
Zhang said greater acceptance of digital transactions will happen if people know the system they are using and the data they will need to use it.
“While we see increasing demand for digital transactions, we understand that many businesses in the Philippines have not yet fully embraced the digitalization journey. Xendit is unique because we build deeply into each local market and culture, allowing us to work hand-in-hand with both traditional and startup businesses to innovate together along their digital transformation journey. This is especially important now, as so much of the Philippines continues to rely on transacting online for essential payments and purchases,” she said.
GrabPay Philippines head Jonathan Bates said Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas’ (BSP) decision to implement the electronic fund transfer systems InstaPay and PESONet, as well as the adoption of a national quick response (QR) initiative, are great boosts for the digitization of fund transfer in the country.
He said the government’s national identification (ID) program and introduction of more regulations towards ensuring the security of cashless payments and transfers “will see a massive acceleration” of transactions by 2021.
Carlo Almendral, chief executive officer of contact tracing application TARA!, cited the need for digital payments solutions especially now as coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) infections remain high.
“Many are realizing that cashless payments are not just safer health-wise, but more convenient for both business owners and customers, especially those who are unbanked. Xendit’s fraud management tools ensure that even the most traditional businesses feel comfortable accepting payments online for the first time,” he said.
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