Palace hails concessional loan from Japan; Duterte to call soon special session for passage of Bayanihan 2
Malacañang lauded on Wednesday a loan that the government was able to secure from Japan due to very low interest rate.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, in a television interview, quoting Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, even suggested that President Rodrigo Duterte could personally thank Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for the very concessional loan.
"Just like what Secretary Dominguez has said, perhaps the President should personally thank Prime Minister Abe," he said.
Dominguez, on behalf of the Philippines, and Japan International Cooperation Agency Chief Representative Eigo Azukizawa, representing the government of Japan, signed 50-billion yen, equivalent to $50.45 million, the agreement for the COVID-19 Crisis Response Emergency Support Loan.
The yen loan package carries concessional lending terms of 0.01 percent fixed interest rate per annum with a maturity period of 15 years inclusive of a four-year grace period.
Roque said the Japanese loan to the Philippines was "almost free" due to very low interest rate.
He said even if the Philippines has a new loan with Japan, the executive branch needs to ask congressional approval in order for it to be spent.
Thus, Roque said Duterte is expected to call for a special session of Congress soon to pass the so-called Bayanihan 2.
He said the negotiations between Congress and the executive are almost finished on the proposed measure.
"And this means since there is almost an agreement, in the near future, the executive will call for a special session to pass the Bayanihan 2 package," he said.
The bill is a supplement measure to Republic Act No. 11469, otherwise known as the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, which expired last month.
In the proposed Bayanihan 2, the Senate is pushing for a P140 billion standby fund for coronavirus response, while the House is seeking for P162 billion.
The Palace is also pushing for its own amount of assistance.
Part of the bill is the government's request for about P17 billion allocation for the hiring of 50,000 contact tracers of individuals who have exposure with COVID-19 patients. Celerina Monte/DMS