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Dominguez protege defends modest stimulus package: We have to be prudent

A protege of Finance Secretary Sonny Dominguez is defending the government’s token P130 billion economic stimulus package, which is just a fraction of the P1.3 trillion approved by Congress.

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Chua said while the government was cash-rich and has access to credit lines, it has to remain “prudent” amid the clamor of the business sector to match the stimulus spending of the country’s Southeast Asian neighbors.

“In principle, we do of course agree that we need to get as much resources as possible so that we can help as many sectors in the recovery. However, we also have to think more strategically. We don’t know when the virus will end we don’t know when the vaccine will come. It could be a few months. It could be many years. So we have to also be prudent,” said Chua in an interview with CNN Philippines.

“We would like to help as many sectors as possible but we have to be mindful that if we put all our money out at one time then what money do we have in the coming years. The other concern we have also is there is a constitutional provision that prevents us from increasing our spending without commensurate increases in additional revenues. So all of these are being factored in as we present a more prudent and constitutionally viable fiscal stimulus program,” he added.

The World Bank-veteran Chua, who was recruited by Dominguez as his undersecretary in 2016, was appoint as OIC of the National Economic and Development Authority to replace Ernesto Pernia who resigned in April 2020.

Pernia, who served as a counterbalance to Dominguez in the economic team, saw Chua as a “very able economist” but he should “have an independent mind and not just agree to everything.”

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