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Group urges govt to use IMF cash fall vs Covid-19

THE national government should allocate the $2.78 billion it will receive from the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) to improve its pandemic response, according to nonprofit group Action for Economic Reforms (AER).

The AER said the amount can be used “without any strings attached” for pandemic response. This can then be used to provide ayuda and purchase additional essential health items, the organization said.

The AER said this should also be accompanied by efforts to reallocate funds for ayuda. They noted that the “huge counter-insurgency and intelligence funds” may no longer be needed given that the “insurgency is weak.”

“The IMF leadership decided to credit the SDRs to all its member countries towards boosting global liquidity and helping countries, especially developing ones, obtain the funding for their pandemic response. Actually, the Philippine government owns the SDRs equivalent to $2.78 billion,” AER said.

“And the amount can be used without any strings attached for the government to spend for fighting the pandemic. We thus propose that the amount of $2.78 billion be earmarked for additional essential health items and for ayuda,” it added.

The organization said this is important since opening up the economy cannot yet be done due to the surge in Covid-19 cases. Imposing a stricter lockdown nationwide to avert the rise in cases.

The ayuda for workers will help Filipinos comply with the stricter lockdown rules and prevent them from growing hungry. AER said currently, cases continue to rise because the lockdown in effect was “porous.”

Further, the government is not financing human health resources, testing, contract tracing, quarantine facilities, medicines and supplies, and relief for the hungry and unemployed.

“We thus ask the government to urgently execute temporary stricter restrictions on mobility. This is a necessary step towards the recovery of our health system,” the AER said.

“This will also facilitate economic recovery. But for this to be fully effective, the government must be able to overcome its deficiencies in the past,” it added.

The AER said a strict lockdown will help slow the spread of the Delta variant of the coronavirus, and ease the heavy burden faced by our health workers and the whole health system.

They noted that cases were surging not only in the National Capital Region but in the provinces. This requires the implementation of a stricter lockdown nationwide.

The AER noted that countries that are able to contain the pandemic through strict quarantine measures combined with decisive health interventions and ample economic aid are the first to recover jobs, investments and growth.

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