The government has so far spent P258 billion out of P352 billion released for the Covid-19 response, mostly on emergency subsidies to poor and low-income households and displaced workers, the Department of Finance said on Tuesday.

In a statement, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said the money came from tax collections of state revenue agencies, income from actual dividend collections from government-owned and controlled corporations, and concessional loans and grants provided by multilateral lenders such as the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank.

On Friday, Dominguez told President Rodrigo Duterte and members of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases that the government did not have authority to spend a huge amount of money, which was why the poorest sectors were prioritized.

“So far, we have sufficient cash but we are limited in our budget allowance,” Dominguez said.

The following amounts have been released by the Department of Budget and Management as of April 23:

  • P200.42 billion for the social amelioration program and other economic relief measures for poor households and other vulnerable groups of the Department of Social Welfare and Development;
  • P6.435 billion to the Department of Labor and Employment for its assistance program for workers affected by the enhanced community quarantine in Luzon and similar containment measures imposed by local government units; and
  • P51 billion to the Social Security System (SSS) for the implementation of the Small Business Wage Subsidy (SBWS) program for some 3.4 million qualified workers of 1.6 million small businesses.

The rest was spent on the procurement of testing kits and other essential medical supplies, budget requirements for temporary Covid-19 treatment and monitoring facilities, emergency repatriation of distressed overseas Filipino workers; and local governments for “Bayanihan Grants” to provinces, cities and municipalities. (