The Bicameral Conference Committee seeking to reconcile the Bayanihan II stimulus bill has agreed to fund coronavirus testing and emergency subsidies for low-income households, Senator Juan Edgardo M. Angara said.
The Committee started discussions Friday to harmonize the two versions of the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act, Senate Bill No. 1564 and House Bill No. 6593.
Mr. Angara’s office said the chambers agreed to continue funding for testing and subsidies, a key component of the first Bayanihan law, signed in March. The committee has yet to agree on the levels of funding for these programs.
The committee also agreed to provide P15,000 worth of cash assistance for health workers who contract mild and moderate cases of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
The first Bayanihan law did not make the same distinction when it provided compensation to those who contracted COVID-19 and the families of those who died.
The chambers also agreed to provide a one-time grant for teachers and other school personnel in the private sector, who received nothing in Bayanihan I.
One of the major difference the panel has yet to settle is the funding level for assistance to displaced workers, micro, small and medium enterprises, and the transportation and tourism industries.
The Senate version provides for a P140-billion standby fund, which is consistent with the Department of Finance (DoF) proposal; while the House wants P162 billion worth of assistance.
Also among the contentious provisions is the one-year grace period on loan payments in the House version, which was opposed by the central bank and financial institutions. The Senate version only provides for a 30-day moratorium.
Bayanihan II forms part of the DoF’s P180-billion stimulus plan, which also includes the tax relief contained in the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises Act (CREATE). — Charmaine A. Tadalan