THE SENATE prefers to legislate pandemic relief measures specific to financial institutions separately from the Bayanihan II bill, as opposed to the House of Representatives’ more integrated proposal, Senator Grace S. Poe-Llamanzares said at an online briefing Wednesday.
The Bicameral Conference Committee is now reconciling versions of the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act, also known as Bayanihan II, under House Bill No. 6593 and Senate Bill No. 1564. The bill is a pillar of the government’s stimulus plan.
Provisions that need to be harmonized in conference committee were the inclusion of key features of the Financial Institution Strategic Transfer (FIST) and Government Financial Institutions Unified Initiatives to Distressed Enterprises for Economic Recovery (GUIDE) bills in the House version.
“That is actually a point of contention between some members of the House and the Senate,” Ms. Poe-Llamanzares said.
“This is very bank-specific. What we did instead and this is the suggestion of the Senate… is not to include FIST and ARISE in Bayanihan 2,” she said.
Ms. Poe-Llamanzares noted that the panel will tackle the FIST provision today, adding that she hopes to conclude meetings in time for ratification next week.
The GUIDE bill calls for the creation of an entity to be known as Accelerating Recovery to Intensify Solidarity and Equity, Inc. (ARISE, Inc.) which will assist companies address solvency issues. The FIST bill allows for the transfer of bad loans to asset management companies, in order to keep banks healthy.
Ms. Poe-Llamanzares is a member of the panel and chairs the Senate Banks and Financial Intermediaries committee.
She added that while the Senate wants a separate bill for financial institutions, the chamber supports an injection of P50 billion to the Land Bank of the Philippines and the Development Bank of the Philippines for lending to micro, small, and medium enterprises.
Asked how the government will fund the other measures, Ms. Llamanzares said “Yesterday, when I was discussing this…, if we’re going to have a separate bill, will we have money for that? The answer of some of our colleagues was the DoF wants this bill to happen, so they will find money for that.”
The panel has also agreed that there will be no jeepney phase out during the pandemic.
Funding will be allocated for the service contracting of public utility vehicles, granting of allowances to displaced drivers and fuel vouchers to other affected drivers.
Bayanihan II will grant special powers to President Rodrigo R. Duterte to realign items in the 2019 and 2020 national budget for the coronavirus containment effort. — Charmaine A. Tadalan