Government firms remit P21.44B in dividends to national Treasury

TEN GOVERNMENT-OWNED and -controlled corporations (GOCCs) remitted a combined P21.44 billion in dividends to the Treasury just before the close of the first quarter, helping finance the coronavirus containment effort, the Department of Finance (DoF) said Tuesday.

The DoF said as of March 26, the National Transmission Corp. remitted P8.3 billion and the Philippine Deposit Insurance Corp. P7.1 billion.

Last year, at the height of the pandemic, the government also asked GOCCs to remit their dividends ahead of time, after revenue was dampened by the lockdown, which slowed the economy and reduced opportunities to collect tax revenue.

Republic Act 7656 requires GOCCs to remit to the National Government at least 50% of their net income as dividends.

GOCC dividends to the government hit a record P157 billion in 2020.

The government is expected to ramp up spending again this year after the capital region and its surrounding provinces were placed under the strictest form of quarantine for a week.

One of the spending items is a new cash aid program as approved by the Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC), the details of which were due to be reported by the Palace, according to Budget Undersecretary Laura B. Pascua on Tuesday.

Ms. Pascua said the additional funds will not push the budget deficit to exceed the 8.9% of gross domestic product cap set by the DBCC late last year.

“(The budget for the subsidy program will not come) from 2021 (budget) because we want to still support growth for the year. Infrastructure funds will be protected as much as possible,” she added.

The government has a P4.5-trillion budget for this year, over P1 trillion of which was allotted to infrastructure projects.

The proposed subsidy program follows the P23 billion in cash aid for poor households over two months launched by the government at the start of the lockdown.

The Department of Budget and Management on Tuesday said it has released the funds to local government units (LGUs), which will facilitate the distribution of assistance in the National Capital Region, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal.

An estimated 22.9 million individuals are expected to receive P1,000 worth of assistance from their LGUs either in cash or in kind. — Beatrice M. Laforga