STATE-OWNED firms have remitted P129.45 billion worth of dividends to the national government to increase the government’s war chest for containing the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak, the Department of Finance (DoF) said.

In a statement Tuesday, the DoF said P91.62 billion was remitted to the Bureau of the Treasury (BTr) during the March 24-April 29 period, during which Republic Act (RA) No. 11469 or the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act was signed into law, representing the “largest sum ever collected from government-owned and -controlled corporations (GOCCs) in span of five weeks.”

The government decided to call in its GOCC dividends ahead of time to add to its cash on hand, after the lockdown upended tax collection, leaving millions of individual taxpayers unable to file their returns after the tax deadline fell within the quarantine period.

The DoF said the remaining P37.83 billion had been remitted between Jan. 1 and March 23, prior to the effectivity of the law.

GOCCs are required by RA No. 11469 to remit to the national government unused subsidies and guarantee fees as well as national government advances, according to the DoF.

RA 11469 allows the President “to allocate cash, funds, investments, including unutilized or unreleased subsidies and transfers, held by any GOCC or any national government agency in order to address the COVID-19 emergency.”

According to the DoF, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas remitted P37.48 billion, followed by the Philippine Deposit Insurance Corp. with P17.9 billion, Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. with P12 billion and the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority with P12 billion.

State firms overseen by the Transportation department remitted P17.05 billion, including P6 billion each from the Manila International Airport Authority and the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines and P5.05 billion from Philippine Ports Authority .

The Philippine National Oil Corp. also remitted P5 billion; the National Power Corp., P4 billion; the

Philippine Reclamation Authority, P3.8 billion; the Bases Conversion and Development Authority, P2.69 billion; the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office, P2.27 billion; as well as P2 billion each from PNOC Exploration Corp. and the Philippine Economic Zone Authority.

Other GOCCs that remitted were the National Electrification Administration (P1.55 billion) Metropolitan Waterworks & Sewerage System (P1.43 billion), Clark Development Corp. (P1.13 billion), Light Rail

Transit Authority (P1 billion) and the National Irrigation Administration (P1 billion).

The Philippine Sugar Corp. remitted P875 million; The Sugar Regulatory Administration P659.55 million; the National Housing Authority P513.24 million, the Cebu Port Authority P500 million and the Mactan Cebu International Airport Authority P500 million.

Other GOCCs that remitted were the Authority of the Freeport Area of Bataan, APO Production Unit, Inc., the Philippine International Trading Corp., the Philippine Crop Insurance Corp., the National Development Co., the North Luzon Tollways Corp., the Social Housing Finance Corp., Food Terminal Inc., the Laguna Lake Development Authority and Clark International Airport Corp., among others.

The government has spent P352.7 billion so far in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, with the funding sourced from tax collections, budget savings, dividends from GOCCs and loans from multilateral lenders. — Beatrice M. Laforga