Virus-hobbled tourism sector to get half of Duterte’s P27B rescue package

The tourism sector will receive a large chunk of the P27.1-billion package set by the government to cushion the impact of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).

In a statement on Tuesday, the Department of Finance (DOF) said a P14-billion aid from the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA) has been earmarked for various programs and projects of the Department of Tourism.

It said about P3.1 billion, to be sourced from the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor), Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB), will be used to purchase test kits, among others.

Other fiscal support package includes:

• P1.2 billion from the Social Security System (SSS) to be used as unemployment benefits for workers from the private sector

• P3-billion scholarship grant for the upskilling and reskilling of temporarily displaced workers to be implemented by the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA)

• P2.8 billion under the Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Credit Policy Council (DA-ACPC) for up to P25,000 loans at zero interest rate for smallholder farmers and fisherfolk in calamity and disaster areas

• P1 billion for the Department of Trade and Industry’s (DTI) Pondo sa Pagbabago at Pag-Asenso (P3) Microfinancing special loan package of the Small Business Corp. (SBC) for affected micro, small and medium enterprises

• P2 billion initial budget by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) for social protection programs for workers whose works in establishments affected by the Covid-19 pandemic

Dominguez said these relief packages are designed to ensure that funding is available for the efforts of the Department of Health (DOH) to contain the spread of Covid-19.

These will also provide economic relief to those whose businesses and livelihoods have been affected by the spread of the disease, he said.

“As directed by President (Rodrigo) Duterte, the government will provide targeted and direct programs to guarantee that benefits will go to our workers and other affected sectors. We have enough but limited resources so our job is to make sure that we have sufficient funds for programs mitigating the adverse effects of Covid-19 on our economy,” he added.

In a media statement, Dominguez attributed the large share of aid for the tourism sector to the fact that it “is the most affected sector” to date.

“Besides, our negotiations for USD1 loans for combating Covid (is) still in process,” he added.

The statement said additional support packages approved by the Economic Development Cluster (EDC) are:

• A loan program of the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) intended for affected government employees and retirees;

• Mobilization of funds from government-owned or -controlled corporations (GOCCs) to assist airlines and the rest of the tourism industry;

• Programs of the largest government banks to help address the impact of the health emergency, such as the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP)’s Rehabilitation Support Program on Severe Events (RESPONSE) which provides public and private institutions in areas declared under a state of calamity with low-interest loans under a simplified application procedure; and the Land Bank of the Philippines (LANDBANK)’ offer of restructured loan amortizations by giving longer tenor and grace periods, with the option of a fixed interest rate under the LANDBANK Calamity Rehabilitation Support (LBP CARES); and

• The grant of temporary and rediscounting relief measures for financial institutions, as approved by the Monetary Board (PNA)