More than P100 billion in dividends from state-run corporations will be spent to assist displaced workers and medical front-liners amid the COVID-19 quarantine in Luzon and other parts of the country.
Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III said the dividends remitted so far, as well as those committed by government-owned and -controlled corporations (GOCCs) would form part of the P200-billion support for priority sectors contained in the “Bayanihan to Heal as One Act” signed by President Duterte last week.
In a statement on Saturday, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia said the state planning agency National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) was preparing a plan in line with the Bayanihan Law in order to “rebuild business and consumer confidence and avoid a prolonged economic recession.”
“Neda is committed to collaborate with the Department of Budget and Management, the Department of Finance and government line agencies in putting together a holistic package and mobilizing resources for such,” said Pernia, who heads Neda.
Neda estimates had shown the economy likely growing by a slower 4.3 percent at most or, in the worst case, contracting by 0.6 percent this year as a result of the pandemic.
Pernia had recommended a comprehensive, three-phased program of interventions to mitigate the impact of COVID-19, comprised of: clinical, medical and public health response as well as short-term augmentation of health systems capacity; rebuilding consumer and business confidence, and resuming a new normal state of economic activity that is more prepared for another possible pandemic.
As of the middle of last week, Dominguez said about P36 billion in GOCC dividends were already collected on top of another P66 billion in “firm” commitments.
Last week, the Department of Transportation ordered its attached agencies—the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, the Manila International Airport Authority and the Philippine Ports Authority—to advance a total of P10 billion in dividends ahead of the May 15 deadline to remit them.
For its part, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) also last week committed to remit in advance P20 billion in dividends, equivalent to 87 percent of its estimated total dividends for 2020.
While the BSP’s new charter no longer required dividend remittances to the national government so it can support its capitalization requirements, the central bank had chosen to help the economy amid the pandemic.
National Treasurer Rosalia V. de Leon said the Bureau of the Treasury and the BSP last Friday finalized their memorandum of agreement for the P300-billion repurchase of government securities.
“We will confirm on Monday credit of P300 billion to our account,” De Leon said. INQ
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