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One big punch vs Covid-19 pushed

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ARISE bill will allot P650 billion for three years starting 2021 to support Build, Build, Build infrastructure programs. (DPWH Facebook)

The P1.3-trillion Accelerated Recovery and Investment Stimulus for the Economy (ARISE) bill will integrate all proposed measures into a one big punch to strengthen the fight against the COVID-19 crisis and its perverse economic impacts.

Formerly called the Philippine Economic Stimulus Act (PESA), it gained an unprecedented support from the Lower House with 267 co-authors.

Of the total amount, P586 billion is allotted for 2020, P10 billion of which will be for massive testing “to alleviate the fear factor,” House Ways and Means chair Albay Rep. Joey Salceda of Albay said

“Without testing, workers will not go to work, consumers won’t go out and businesses won’t open,” Salceda added.

ARISE was approved and endorsed by the Defeat COVID-19 adhoc House panel on Tuesday.

Salceda, co-chair of the Economic Stimulus Package subcommittee of the Defeat COVID-19 panel, said the measure contains the “essential steps to jumpstart the economy and help alleviate people’s anxiety through concrete actions that will ensure thriving economy and livelihood.”

Salceda recently requested from President Rodrigo Duterte a special session in the event that the House of Representatives and the Senate are unable to pass urgent bills to combat the monster COVID-19.

“Let us all echo our cohesive and coherent call to flatten the curve, not the economy,” said Salceda, who principally authored the ARISE bill with Marikina City (2nd District) Rep. Stella Quimbo.

The economic stimulus package also proposes to provide wage subsidies and zero interest loans to micro, small, and medium enterprises. A total of P586 billion would be allotted for 2020, while P80 billion will be set aside in 2021.

The Department of Labor and Employment will be tasked to expand the “cash for work” scheme under the Tulong Panghanapbuhay para sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers.

Another P650 billion would be spaced out for three years starting 2021 to enhance the government’s Build, Build, Build infrastructure programs.

Some P20 billion of the entire package will finance mass testing from 2020 to 2021 at P10 billion each year, and the purchase of more test kits, the setting up additional testing centers, and strengthening contact tracing efforts.

Some P15 billion will likewise be alloted to assist students affected by the pandemic.

Funds are also provided to assist “critically impacted sectors” such as MSMEs, tourism (P58 billion), industry and service sectors (P44 billion), transportation (P70 billion) and agriculture (P56 billion).

Salceda has his hopes up for legislators to support the ARISE bill, which will be sourced from off-budget accounts or government agencies’ income from operations. This is allowed under the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act.

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