THE government’s pandemic spending topped P389 billion as of late August, with emergency cash aid to vulnerable communities accounting for about 54% the total, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) said.
In a briefing Tuesday, Budget Secretary Wendel E. Avisado said the estimate of spending on pandemic-containment measures covered the period to Aug. 28.
“Makikita natin umabot sa P389.06 billion ang nagagasta ng ating pamahalaan as of 28th August, (The government’s expenditure was P389.06 billion as of Aug. 28),” he said.
The Social Amelioration Program (SAP) of the Department of Social Welfare and Development disbursed P211.06 billion. The SAP was two months’ worth of financial aid to about 23 million households affected by the lockdown.
The Small Business Wage Subsidy (SBWS) of the Department of Finance and administered by the Social Security System accounted for P51 billion. The SBWS was directly injected into employers to encourage them to keep their workers.
The Department of Health took up P48.98 billion for health workers’ special risk allowances and hazard pay and to procure personal protective equipment and COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) testing kits.
Pandemic funding is authorized under the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, which gave the President the power to repurpose items in the national budget for emergency spending.
Mr. Avisado said the DBM is ready to release funds for the proposed Bayanihan II bill, which funds the government’s economic recovery strategy. The legislation, formally known as the Bayanihan to Recover as One bill, is awaiting the signature of President Rodrigo R. Duterte. It is currently with the office of the Executive Secretary for review.
“Nakahanda na kami (We are prepared) to release P140 billion, more or less, to support the Bayanihan II bill,” he said. — Gillian M. Cortez