MANILA – The chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee on Thursday said the government should expedite the Covid-19 vaccine rollout to help achieve herd immunity before the year ends and support the country’s economic recovery.
Committee chair Joey Salceda made the remark in response to the record 9.5 percent gross domestic product (GDP) contraction in 2020, the largest recorded economic decline in recent Philippine history.
“I urge the government to support the Bayanihan sa Bakuna Act (House Bill 8285) because it will expedite procurement, rollout, and administration of vaccines. No point in gradual reopening of the economy if we will not give people the confidence to go out” Salceda said.
Salceda said another solution is for the government to expedite spending by using both 2020 and 2021 budgets completely this year.
“No toleration of delays in spending should be tolerated. I sternly warn implementing agencies that Congress will hold you accountable for the budget requests you submitted but cannot spend,” Salceda added.
He also pushed for the passage of the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises (CREATE) bill, the economic Charter change in the form of Resolution of Both Houses (RBH) 2, as well as being more open to public-private partnerships that are fair.
“Finally, we need to signal the domestic and international investing communities that we are serious about being open for business,” he said. “CREATE and RBH2 combined will produce 7.7 million jobs over the next 10 years. But we need to get them done this year so that the initial investments start trickling in.”
Salceda said the country must prevent the long-term impacts of economic decline on future productivity.
“Our people are our best investments. If our young suffer from malnutrition now because of widespread hunger, we will suffer for generations. The future will be an information age. If the ability of the young to learn and be productive is limited now, we have a very concerning prospect,” Salceda said.
Once deemed a “darling” of investors in Southeast Asia, the Philippines posted its worst recession in 2020 after its economy shrank by 9.5 percent.
The Philippine Statistics Authority reported on Thursday that the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) contracted anew in the fourth quarter, shrinking by 8.3 percent, to bring the full-year growth to -9.5 percent.
The slump in the country’s economy last year surpassed the previous record of a 7-percent contraction in 1984. (PNA)