Bayanihan III to head off economic scarring, legislator says

THE third stimulus package and expanding healthcare capacity will be key to minimizing any long-term damage, or “scarring,” to the economy, a key legislator said.

“Through effective and targeted fiscal spending and better management of our National Health Insurance System, we can mitigate the scarring effect on our economy and build towards inclusive recovery and resilience,” Marikina Rep. Stella Luz A. Quimbo said in a Viber message.

The proposed Bayanihan to Arise as One Act, also known as Bayanihan III, allocates up to P400 billion for stimulus measures to revive the economy. It remains pending at the Senate, after it was passed by the House of Representatives in June.

The government has said it can only identify P175 billion in funding to support any such bill.

The International Monetary Fund in August said the economy might take three to five years before returning to pre-pandemic levels.

Economic managers last month downgraded their full-year growth target to 4-5% from 6-7% previously, acknowledging the impact of the infection surge and the return of lockdowns in August.

The need for further stimulus has become more urgent, Ms. Quimbo said.

She noted that scarring has already happened in sectors such as tourism and transportation.

Ms. Quimbo said Bayanihan III can mitigate long-term damage via measures like the P2,000 cash aid allocation for all citizens as well as financial assistance to households that need to undergo isolation.

She said the bill’s provision for assistance to businesses and displaced workers will also help heavily-affected industries. — Luz Wendy T. Noble