Duterte may ask for supplemental budget from Congress to fund pandemic response
President Rodrigo Duterte may ask Congress for a supplemental budget to finance the government's responses in relation to coronavirus disease crisis.
In a radio interview on Friday, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the government still has money, but it could not spend it without the mandate of Congress.
"What is clear is the second part of the ECQ (enhanced community quarantine), there's fund. We have the fund, the problem is Congress may need to enact supplemental budget because other funds could not be spent without the mandate from our lawmakers," he said.
He said when Congress resumes session next month, the Palace would ask authority from Congress.
In a taped televised meeting of Duterte with some members of the Inter-Agency Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases on Thursday night but was only aired on Friday morning, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said the government has spent P352.7 billion for its COVID-19 response.
He said the fund came partly from tax collections, savings and borrowings from Asian Development Bank and World Bank.
But Dominguez noted that because of the lockdown, the tax collection has been declining.
"So far, our cash is sufficient but we're finding difficulty on our budget allowance. So far, that's our problem right now. We have cash but we don't have the authority to spend such big amount," Dominguez explained.
Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado said the government should also prepare for the "second wave" of COVID-19 cases.
The Budget chief said he talked with the other agencies, such as the National Economic and Development Authority and Department of Finance, to come up with "a forward planning on what will be the direction."
"And that would require a lot of funding. The new normal should allow us to provide more jobs to the people in order for them to be more productive," he said.
Duterte reiterated that if there would no longer be any other sources of fund, the government would sell some of its properties.
"Then if the borrowed money is not enough, then we have to sell the assets," he said.
Congress will resume session on May 4. Celerina Monte/DMS