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Spend more on Covid-19 – Ex-NEDA chief

Former Socioeconomic Planning secretary Ernesto Pernia said it is not too late for the government to ramp up spending on its coronavirus disease 2019 response to mitigate the impacts of the global health and economic crisis.

At the Stratbase ARDi Pilipinas Conference 2020, Pernia cited the need to prioritize accelerating the spending on health system capacity, especially building health infrastructures and improving health services in the provinces. re

He added that while improving the healthcare system, injecting funds on other economic stimulus, such as physical infrastructure including digital connectivity, social amelioration programs, and assistance for distressed small and medium enterprises and unemployed workers, would help in the economic recovery.

Pernia, who is also a professor emeritus at the University of the Philippines School of Economics, said the economy is expected to return to the pre-Covid level by the second half of 2022.

To support growth, he said the Accelerated Recovery and Investments Stimulus for the Economy bill, now the Bayanihan 3, merits passage.

He also pushed for the passage of long-pending economic bills especially the Public Service Act, Foreign Investments Act, Retail Trade Liberalization, as well as National Land Use Act and Department of Water, among others.

The country’s former chief economist added the government may look into the spending activities of neighboring Southeast Asian countries, which expanded their debt to gross domestic product ratio while still maintaining good credit ratings.