February 1, 2023

Government will run out of funds if it continues to give cash aid to those who are most affected by the coronavirus disease-2019 (Covid-19) pandemic, an Economics professor warned.

In a briefing with Baguio officials about the pandemic’s economic impact, Saint Louis University professor Gladys Navarro suggested for the Department of Social Welfare and Development or any government agency to give out coupons or vouchers instead of cash to beneficiaries of amelioration programs.

Navarro said coupons or vouchers, which specify items that can be redeemed in stores allows government control and monitor how funds disbursed as aids are spent.

She said the cash aid is supposed to be spent on essentials; but based on some reports, there are those who use their money on non-essentials, such as hair treatments.

If coupons or vouchers were not used, the government can save funds.

“Kung hindi nila gamitin ‘yung coupon, OK lang,” Navarro said, adding that unredeemed coupons or vouchers mean that the money stays with the government and was not spent on something else.

“Giving cash all the time will bleed the government dry,” Navarro said.

She said using coupons or vouchers is also one way of helping businesses especially micro enterprises.

“The coupons are guaranteed income (for the stores),” Navarro said for it is assured that government will pay for the items in the coupon or voucher.

Navarro suggested that coupons or vouchers should be redeemable even in sari-sari stores.

Based on the May 2 to 7 survey of the National Economic Development Authority, 46 percent out of the 89 respondents in Baguio alone or about 40 establishments affected by the lockdown are micro enterprises or those with assets of at least P20 million.

The same survey showed that 47 percent are not able to judge when they can recover their losses; 27 percent said they will be able to recover more than three months after the lifting of the enhanced community quarantine; and 17 percent said they will be able to recover in one to three months after lifting of the ECQ. – Rimaliza A. Opiña

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