Albay Rep. Joey Salceda has called on the economic managers to “give the green light” on the third tranche of the social amelioration program (SAP), reasoning that “communities are on the brink of being completely pauperized.”
“If we have a good Bayanihan 2, there will still be at least 3.3 million households who will lose at least one household earner. If we have an inadequate one, it will be 4.2 million households,” the House ways and means committee chair said in a preliminary analysis released by his office Thursday.
“As representatives of the people, we are duty-bound to address, or at the very least manifest, the needs of our constituents,” Salceda said.
“As months of interrupted work, school, and business have passed, we members of Congress have heard plea after plea from our people seeking help on their most basic needs – from food for their families, to medicine for their elderly, and milk for their infants,” he added.
“I have not seen this volume of requests ever in my five terms as a member of Congress and in my three terms as a Governor. Even people whom I know to have been gainfully employed before the pandemic are now in very dire need,” Salceda said.
Salceda saaid that he understands the reservations of the economic managers to go “all out, all in,” with subsidy programs, saying that “previous debt crisis in the country were traumatizing, but we are very far from that point.”
“I, of all people, know that there are fiscal constraints. I consider our country’s credit ratings my life’s work – from the fiscal reforms I led in 2003, to my shepherding of the Comprehensive Tax Reform Program of President Duterte,” he said.
“And I have always been a committed fiscalist, promoting the economic theory that tax-to-GDP is the ultimate determinant of development in an emerging economy,” he added.
“I have always committed to the idea that we need to prepare our fiscal position so that when our time of direst need comes, we will be ready to act without hesitation. That time has come,” Salceda said.
“For 3.3 million households, one month of subsidies would be around P21.4 billion. For 4.2 million, we would need P27.3 billion,” he said.
“I am studying how to finance this immediate need, and will work with my colleagues in the Committee on Ways and Means to figure out how we can ensure the long-term fiscal sustainability of this government without denying or wishing away our short-term needs,” Salceda added.
Salceda said he expects Q2 GDP figures to be “difficult to swallow,” but added that “at least the worst is likely over, if we can keep the economy open.”