ADB: PH’s COVID-19 war chest inched up to P1.04 trillion as of mid-July | Inquirer Business
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ADB: PH’s COVID-19 war chest inched up to P1.04 trillion as of mid-July

By: - Reporter / @bendeveraINQ
/ 03:52 PM July 17, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines’ war chest against the COVID-19 crisis inched up to $21.046 billion (about P1.04 trillion) as of mid-July, although still lower than most of its Southeast Asian neighbors when divided among the relatively bigger population.

The Asian Development Bank’s (ADB) COVID-19 policy database compiled by the Manila-based multilateral lender’s economic research and regional cooperation department showed the country’s COVID-19 package as of July 13 further rose from $20.1 billion in June, $19.8 billion in May, and $16.5 billion in April.

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The authors of the ADB database led by Jesus Felipe included the sum of the measures that provided liquidity, encouraged credit creation in financial sectors, and directly funded households, businesses and/or local governments reeling from the pandemic.

To date, liquidity support provided by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) reached P264.7 billion.

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Loan guarantees made available to badly hit small businesses amounted to P120 billion, while long-term direct lending to businesses, farmers, fishers, schools, and local governments contributed P18.5 billion.

Also, part of the Philippines’ economic war chest vs. COVID-19 were P58.6 billion in support to the healthcare sector and front-liners, as well as P464.4 billion in non-health dole-outs to vulnerable sectors such as poor families, displaced Filipino workers here and abroad, rice farmers, taxpayers, tourism industry players, and micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), among others.

To avoid double-counting, the sum of the key economic measures against the COVID-19 pandemic did not include the P266.2 billion in budget funds reallocated into COVID-19 response, central bank financing support for the national government worth P382 billion, and the P206.9 billion in loans and grants secured from multilateral lenders such as the ADB, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), and the World Bank, as well as aid agencies of bilateral partners such as Canada, the European Union, Japan, and the United States.

The ADB database also noted other uncategorized economic measures, such as the P145-billion fiscal stimulus package under the proposed “Bayanihan 2” pending in Congress.

The Philippines’ measures to fight COVID-19 were equivalent to 5.72 percent of gross domestic product (GDP).

If divided among the population, the package per capita was $197.33 or over P9,700 for every Filipino.

The sum of the Philippine government’s COVID-19 policies was the sixth biggest in Southeast Asia, after Singapore’s $92.1 billion, Thailand’s $84.1 billion, Malaysia’s $78.4 billion, Indonesia’s $63.4 billion, and Vietnam’s $26.5 billion, while surpassing Cambodia’s $2.2 billion, Brunei Darussalam’s $318 million, Timor-Leste’s $254 million, Myanmar’s $99 million, and Laos’ $8 million.

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On a per-capita basis, seven Southeast Asian countries had larger COVID-19 response than the Philippines—Singapore had the largest at $16,331.80 per person; Malaysia, $2,488.18; Thailand, $1,211.20; Brunei Darussalam, $741.61; Vietnam, $277.40; Indonesia’s $237.02; and Timor-Leste, $200.32.

The Philippines’ COVID-19 economic response per capita exceeded those of Cambodia ($136), Myanmar ($1.84), and Laos ($1.11).

As a share of GDP, Brunei Darussalam’s COVID-19 package was equivalent to 2.7 percent; Cambodia, 8.3 percent; Indonesia, 6 percent; Laos, 0.04 percent; Malaysia, 22.1 percent; Myanmar, 0.13 percent; Singapore, 26.2 percent; Thailand, 15.9 percent; Timor-Leste, 8.7 percent; and Vietnam, 10.1 percent.

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