The Philippine government has so far spent PHP352.7 billion to address the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) in the country, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said.
“So far, ang nagastos po natin is already, for this (Covid-19) is, na hindi natin plinano, ay PHP352.7 billion na (So far, we have already spent PHP352.7 billion for this Covid-19. This is unplanned),” Dominguez said in a taped briefing aired on state-run PTV-4 on Friday.
He said the funds spent for the Covid-19 response were taken from the PHP4.1-trillion national budget for 2020, tax collections, savings, and borrowed money from multilateral agencies.
Dominguez made the remarks after President Rodrigo Duterte said the government is “running low on funds.”
The government still has enough funds but the budget for Covid-19 response is now getting limited,
“Supisyente po ‘yung cash natin pero naiipit na po tayo sa budget allowance natin. So ‘yan po ang problema natin ngayon (Our cash is sufficient but our budget allowance is dwindling. That’s our problem now),” Dominguez said.
About PHP275 billion have been released as the government’s emergency fund to address Covid-19.
He earlier bared that the government plans to borrow USD5.6 billion from the Asian Development Bank to help the Philippines combat Covid-19.
Responding to Dominguez’s latest remarks, Duterte said the government needs to look for ways to address the current challenges the country is facing.
“Iyan ang problema ngayon (That’s the problem now). It’s really a question of money,” he said. “If the funds are not sufficient, they will have to borrow.”
The President also reiterated that the government might sell public properties, in case the borrowed money is “not enough” to stop the further transmission of Covid-19.
“Why am I talking this way? You know why? There is no telling how long, gaano katagal itong Covid sa buhay natin (this Covid-19 would affect our lives),” he said.
“Wala kaming hangarin na pigilin iyang pera (We don’t have any intention to stop the spending of money). It’s not ours. It belongs to the Filipino people and should be spent for the welfare of the Filipino people,” he added.
Metro Manila, Central Luzon, Calabarzon, and other “high-risk” Covid-19 areas have been placed under an enhanced community quarantine until May 15 to effectively curb the spread of Covid-19 in the country. (PNA)