The national government is already looking far into the future when the COVID-19 pandemic shall have run its course. It has decided that a major way to mobilize the economy after all these weeks and months of inactivity would be a big increase in infrastructure spending.
The Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECC) that locked down Metro Manila and the rest of Luzon began on March 15 along with a State of Calamity in the rest of the country. Many local government units in the south enforced various levels of quarantine, all with the goal of stopping the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19),
The month-long quarantine in Metro Manila and Luzon is due to end on April 16 but it is expected to be lifted only gradually in the next two weeks. Even as private offices and factories begin resuming their operations, we must continue the “social distancing” that has kept the virus from spreading as fast as it has in other countries. If all goes well, the quarantine may be lifted by May.
But the national government is looking beyond May to the remaining months of 2020. The national economy has suffered a big setback and the best way to recovery is via stepped-up infrastructure spending. The “Build, Build, Build” program of the Duterte administration already has 100 approved projects – roads, bridges, airports, seaports, irrigation and other water projects. Half of these will be completed by the end of the Duterte administration in 2022. The other 50 will all begin before the term ends.
In the wake of the economic slowdown caused by COVID-19, Secretary of Finance Carlos Dominguez III said the national government will now boost its infrastructure spending, using P203.8 billion already allocated to the Department of Public Works and Highways in the national budget, plus P100.6 billion allocated to the Department of Transportation.
The projects to be launched with these funds “will create jobs, stimulate demand, and enhance connectivity,” Secretary Dominguez said. The projects will immediately create construction jobs and this in turn will simulate other businesses And upon the completion of a project, such as a new seaport, a whole new range of economic activity will arise from the new seaport.
The COVID-19 problem is still very much with us, but the government is already looking forward to when it ends. There has been a big slowdown in national economic activity, but even now we are preparing for it.
Credit belongs to : www.manilatimes.net