Philippine House speaker submits US$8.7billon COVID-19 relief bill

Lord Allan Velasco has submitted a pandemic-relief bill of 420 billion peso (US$8.7 billion) to Congress to spur the economy into recovery.
By: | February 10, 2021

The bill, filed jointly with lawmaker Stella Quimbo, will fund initiatives to aid businesses hit by the pandemic and provide another round of cash handouts for those living in poverty, Velasco said. 

This proposed bill comes even as the government is eschewing huge stimulus packages to maintain the country’s sovereign credit rating. It is instead counting on a record budget of 4.5 trillion pesos (US$93.6 billion) and trimming corporate taxes to lift the economy out of its worst recession in 74 years. 

Velasco said additional stimulus is needed as the economic output last year “was far below what was assumed for budget purposes, and further losses may still be incurred”, adding that a majority in Congress supports the bill. 

The bill is proposed in the light of 1,790 new COVID-19 cases, raising the number of confirmed cases to 537,310, according to the Department of Health (DOH). 

READ: Task force set up in the Philippines to create jobs

DOH said the number of COVID-19-related deaths totaled 11,179 after 70 more patients died from the virus infection. In terms of recovery cases, 11,388 more patients recovered, bringing the cumulative number of recoveries to 499,798. 

The Philippines has tested over 7.58 million of its 110-million population since the pandemic started in January last year, according to Bloomberg.