The government is on the lookout for more funds to sustain help to vulnerable sectors and keep the economy from total collapse as uncertainty lingers over the COVID-19 pandemic.

Budget Secretary Wendel E. Avisado told the Inquirer on Thursday (April 16) that the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) was in discussion with Congress for more funding.

The proposed 2021 budget of P4.64 trillion is being deliberated in the Cabinet-level Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC) and Economic Development Cluster (EDC).

Avisado said allocations for capital outlay and maintenance and other operating expenses in the 2020 budget may be realigned though he did not say how much.

Capital outlay included expenditures on public infrastructure, which Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III had said should be the last to tapped for more funds against COVID-19.

The “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure program can help the country recover from the ravage of the pandemic, according to Dominguez.

In a presentation at the House last Tuesday (April 15), Presidential Adviser on Flagship Projects Vivencio B. Dizon said the stimulus packages of other countries all included infrastructure spending.

But Dizon had acknowledged that it may be more challenging to secure financing to roll out big-ticket infrastructure projects.

The Duterte administration was nonetheless sticking with the P4.4-trillion Build, Build, Build program. At least 22 of 100 flagship projects, worth P167.9 billion, will be financed through the national budget. At least P2.3 trillion in projects would get financing from foreign loans and grants while 29 of the projects worth P1.8 trillion are public-private partnerships.

Even the government stood to lose tax and non-tax revenues this year as individuals and businesses alike grappled with the pandemic.

Department of Finance (DOF) estimates had shown forgone revenues to reach P286.4 billion if gross domestic product posted zero growth this year, or a larger P318.9 billion if GDP contracted by 1 percent.

Edited by TSB


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