A MEASURE expediting the privatization of government assets to raise funds for the coronavirus crisis has been filed in the Senate.

Senate Bill No. 1519, the “COVID-19 Economic Lifeline Act,” calls for the sale and disposition of non-performing properties and assets owned by the government to augment public funds.

“There is a need for the National Government to find new ways to augment public funds in order to continue effectively fighting the COVID-19 pandemic and help countless Filipinos and businesses,” Senator Francis N. Tolentino said in the explanatory note of the bill.

The Department of Budget and Management has said that as of June 9, government spending to contain COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) amounted to P355 billion, a large part of which consisted of the emergency cash subsidy for low-income households.

The government has also raised $7.63 billion in grants and loans from various international agencies as of July 1.

The Department of Finance (DoF) is also pushing for a P180-billion recovery plan for the proposed Bayanihan 2, which has standby funding of P140 billion, and a proposal to cut corporate income tax to 25% this year from 30%.

Mr. Tolentino’s bill creates the COVID-19 privatization commission, which will be led by the DoF, to oversee the sale of state-owned assets drawn from a priority list prepared by a separate office, the COVID-19 Privatization Commission Management Office.

Government properties under consideration also include those owned by government-owned or controlled corporations which are deemed unnecessary or inefficient.

The measure provides that proceeds from the sale be directly used to fund programs mitigating the impact of COVID-19. The Commission, meanwhile, will be allowed to retain up to 5% of the proceeds for its operations. — Charmaine A. Tadalan