War chest to fight COVID-19 hits $38.12B
The additional P45-billion equity injected into government financial institutions (GFIs) this month further raised the Philippines’ war chest to fight COVID-19 to $38.12 billion (P1.86 trillion), Asian Development Bank (ADB) data released Friday showed.
The ADB’s COVID-19 policy database showed a higher total amount of policy measures to address the health and socioeconomic crises caused by the pandemic as of Feb. 22 compared to $35.97 billion early this month.
The updated ADB figures reflected the fresh capital released to the state-run Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) amounting to P12.5 billion; Land Bank of the Philippines (Landbank) P27.5 billion, and Philippine Guarantee Corp. (PhilGuarantee), P5 billion—all under the extended Bayanihan to Recover as One Act.
The Department of Finance (DOF) had said DBP’s additional equity would be used to extend low-interest loans to sectors badly hit by the pandemic-induced recession, while Landbank’s would be infused into its existing as well as upcoming loan programs for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).
PhilGuarantee, meanwhile, plans to revive its guarantee program for large firms to cover up to P300 million of their borrowings, especially those in “critically impacted” industries like trade, transportation and tourism.
To date, the Philippines’ fiscal and monetary measures to fight the pandemic were equivalent to 10.36 percent of 2019 gross domestic product—the first time to exceed a tenth of prepandemic GDP.
On a per capita basis, the total package amounted to $352.55 or about P17,100 per Filipino.
The sum of the Philippine government’s COVID-19 policies nearly a year since the pandemic reached the country’s shores was the fifth biggest in Southeast Asia, behind Indonesia’s $115.33 billion, Singapore’s $100.51 billion, Malaysia’s $91.95 billion and Thailand’s $84.09 billion.
Per capita, five Southeast Asian countries had bigger amounts than the Philippines’—Singapore, $17,621.90 per person; Malaysia, $2,877.96; Thailand, $1,207.77; Brunei Darussalam, $734.21, and Indonesia, $426.18.
As a share of GDP, Singapore’s COVID-19 war chest topped the region at 28.58 percent, followed by Malaysia’s 25.87 percent, Thailand’s 15.96 percent and Indonesia’s 10.9 percent.
—Ben O. de Vera
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