PH’s COVID-19 war chest hit $21.65B as of mid-November


The availability of a bigger loan facility for local government units struggling amid the pandemic has raised to $21.65 billion (about P1.04 trillion) the Philippines’ response package to fight COVID-19, according to the Manila-based multilateral lender Asian Development Bank (ADB).

Latest data on the ADB’s COVID-19 policy database showed an increase in the sum of measures put in place by the Philippines as of Nov. 16, from $21.5 billion in September, $21.1 billion in July, $20.1 billion in June, $19.8 billion in May, and $16.5 billion in April.

The Philippines’ COVID-19 war chest was expanded by the additional P10 billion injected into state-run Land Bank of the Philippines’ loan program for local government units, doubling the facility to P20 billion.

The updated package was equivalent to 5.88 percent of 2019 gross domestic product (GDP). Once divided among the population, the package per capita amounted to $202.95 or almost P9,797 per Filipino.

The sum of the Philippine government’s COVID-19 measures to date was the sixth biggest in Southeast Asia, after Indonesia’s $115.78 billion, Singapore’s $89.14 billion, Thailand’s $84.09 billion, Malaysia’s $80.78 billion and Vietnam’s $26.5 billion. It was higher than Cambodia’s $2.21 billion, Brunei Darussalam’s $318.12 million, Timor-Leste’s $254 million, Myanmar’s $98.64 million and Laos’s $30.35 million.

On a per capita basis, six Southeast Asian neighbors have larger COVID-19 response—Singapore, $15,809 per person; Malaysia, $2,562.01; Thailand, $1,211.20; Brunei Darussalam, $741.61; Indonesia, $432.54; and Vietnam, $277.40.

The Philippines’ response per capita exceeded those of Timor-Leste’s $200.32, Cambodia’s $136, Myanmar’s $1.84 and Laos’s $4.30.

As a share of last year’s GDP, Brunei Darussalam’s COVID-19 package was equivalent to 2.66 percent; Cambodia, 8.27 percent; Indonesia, 10.94 percent; Laos, 0.16 percent; Malaysia, 22.73 percent; Myanmar, 0.13 percent; Singapore, 25.35 percent; Thailand, 15.96 percent; Timor-Leste, 8.65 percent; and Vietnam, 10.12 percent.

The number of COVID-19 infections in the Philippines was currently second highest in the region, next only to Indonesia’s. —BEN O. DE VERA

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