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Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade

DOTr backs economic stimulus 

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The Department of Transportation (DOTr) supports the passage of the proposed Philippine Economic Stimulus Act of 2020 (PESA) to help revive the economy from the pandemic.

In a statement, Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade said the PESA bill will be of great help to stakeholders in the country’s transportation sector who were extremely affected by the impact of the coronavirus disease and the following strict quarantine measures that were put in place to stop its spread.

“As the health and safety of the transport sector remain to be the agency’s top priority, the DOTr continuously seeks for ways to further assist all stakeholders. Our stakeholders, especially the displaced transportation workers and companies need help,” Tugade said.

“A stimulus package will help ease some of their burdens imposed by this health crisis. An economic stimulus package could help them restructure existing loans and even avail of needed immediate assistance,” the Transportation chief said.

The Cabinet official emphasized that hard-hit public utility vehicle (PUV) drivers and operators, airline employees, maritime workers, as well as airline and shipping companies must be given assistance to give them the needed room to recover their income.

All forms of public mass transportation in areas declared under an enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) and modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) were suspended as part of measures to control the spread of COVID-19.

The suspension of mass transportation led to the displacement of transport wage-earners, and financial loss for transportation companies during the enforcement of the strict quarantine measures.

An economic stimulus package post-COVID-19 has been the subject of many consultations and hearings under the Committees on Economic Affairs under chairperson Sharon Garin and Trade and Industry under chairman Wes Gatchalian.

The proposed PESA bill is a consolidation of the proposals of Albay 2nd District Rep. Joey Salceda and Marikina Rep. Stella Luz Quimbo. 

Under the proposed PESA bill, the government will earmark P1.3 trillion as a post-COVID-19 economic stimulus package. This includes a budget of P650 billion for an expanded infrastructure program for healthcare, education, and food security.

The country’s transportation sector meanwhile will get an allocation of P70 billion as its share of the economic stimulus package under the measure.

The DOTr said it had earlier submitted to Congress a proposal for a stimulus package that will cover the needed assistance in the recovery of the aviation sector in the form of wage subsidy for airline employees, augmentation of airline companies’ working capital, and provision of funds for the payment of fees and charges due to the different national airport authorities.

For the maritime sector, the agency has requested that funds be allocated for incentives and subsidies to support the passenger shipping industry and their corresponding budgetary requirements, which include the provision of emergency lines of credit for operations funding and for the provision for a relief on current loan obligations through a long-term credit facility with low interest and waiver of interest cost for six months.

The DOTr also earlier proposed for the granting of assistance to the country’s road transport sector as part of the economic stimulus package in the recovery amid COVID-19. 

The proposal intends to assist the operation of PUVs, mitigate income loss of PUV drivers and operators, and provide fuel subsidy for PUV operators, which is equivalent to more or less 30% of their actual fuel consumption during the pre-ECQ period. 

In addition, the proposed stimulus package intends to provide transport operators with new loan facilities to cover expenses for fuel, manpower, garage lease and other operating and capital expenses, the Transportation department said.

This includes intervention for the restructuring of existing loans of bus operators with private banks for the modernization of their fleet during the duration of the general community quarantine period, according to the DOTr.

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