Solon warns against piecemeal approach for ARISE bill

A lawmaker warned on Wednesday that a piecemeal approach towards the proposed PHP1.3-trillion Accelerated Recovery and Investments Stimulus for the Economy (ARISE) bill would not be an effective stimulus for economic recovery amid the coronavirus crisis.


Marikina City Rep. Stella Quimbo said the plan to propose interventions under the ARISE bill as separate budget items in the 2021 national budget would not be an “effective economic stimulus package”.


“Kung i-tsa-chop-chop ang ARISE, at maging piece-meal ang approach, parang regular budget items lang ang treatment ng proposed interventions (If we chop up ARISE [into pieces], and it becomes a piecemeal approach, then the treatment of the proposed interventions would be similar to regular budget items),” Quimbo said. “How do we know which of these are counted towards the incremental effort of responding to Covid? Baka naman yung akala natin na stimulus, matagal na palang plano yun kahit wala pang Covid (Maybe, [the budgetary items] that we think are for stimulus, are actually part of the plans even before Covid).”


She noted that there would also be no proper monitoring of these interventions through congressional oversight.


“‘Pag hiwalay ang mga hakbang, hiwalay ang pagpapatupad, at hiwalay din ang pag- report sa Kongreso. (If the steps are divided, and the implementation is done separately, then the report to Congress would also be delivered separately),” she said. “How does Congress know if this was well-targeted to beneficiaries, considering all other interventions? How do we know how impactful this is, relative to the Herculean task of reviving a dying economy?”


Quimbo cited that in other countries, the steps taken to revive the economy are in distinct economic packages, stressing that the Philippine government should also propose a coherent Covid-19 recovery strategy.


“Again, I reiterate, we cannot afford to fail. We sincerely want the government to succeed in the fight against Covid and hunger. Congress has worked hard, thought hard, and listened hard… and time is of the essence,” she said.


The House of Representatives has already passed the ARISE bill on third and final reading in June.


The stimulus package is expected to protect and assist up to 15.7 million workers, create 3 million short-term jobs, and 1.5 million infrastructure jobs over three years, and help up to 5.57 million micro, small and medium enterprises, both formal and non-formal.


The bill seeks to mandate immediate mass testing for Covid-19 with an allocation of PHP10 billion for this year and another PHP10 billion next year.


The bill also proposes an enhanced “Build, Build, Build” program worth PHP650 billion in three years, provided that 20 percent shall be appropriated and released in 2020, 40 percent in 2021, and 40 percent in 2022.


Source: Philippines News Agency


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