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Fiscal stimulus needed as joblessness eases

The chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee said the country’s unemployment rate signals the urgent need for one final round of stimulus measures.

Albay Rep. Joey Salceda, panel chairman, said while the third quarter unemployment rate reduction to 8.7 percent from the previous quarter’s 17.3 percent signals some economic recovery, millions of Filipinos are still in need of relief.

“As a representative of a typhoon-ravaged province, I will tell you, we need urgent help. Our LGUs (local government units) fiscal reserves are exhausted. We can no longer wait for 2021,” Salceda said.

“The House will move quickly with the stimulus measures. There is consensus in both the majority and the minority that our people should get the help they need.”

He said his core stimulus proposals are the vaccine rollout, rental assistance, typhoon relief, local government support, and unemployment assistance.

“I am amenable to compromise with our counterparts in the Senate and our colleagues in the executive, as long as the final stimulus measure contains these core measures. But it cannot be zero. We need a third round of stimulus measures,” he said.

The House Committee on Economic Affairs has discussed this week the Bayanihan 3 proposals pending in the lower chamber, including Salceda’s House Bill 8059, or the Bayanihan to Rebuild as One Act.

The Bicolano lawmaker said the coronavirus disease crisis created a “crater” in the country’s economic trajectory that needs to be filled up with fiscal resources, noting that the state would have to spend to look after the common good.

“The private sector takes a while to create jobs. Fiscal spending’s job impact is immediate. When there’s ready money being spent in the market, it always spurs new job creation,” he said. “Christmas is coming. We need help.”