Sale of gov’t assets to raise more funds for COVID-19 response

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon called on the government’s economic managers to conduct a speedy review of state assets that could be sold off immediately in order to generate funds for COVID-19 crisis and to counter the growing budget deficit due to the pandemic.

The President last week said he is ready to sell government properties as a last resort to get more funding for the people affected by the pandemic.

“Let us turn this COVID-19 crisis into an opportunity to better utilize government assets. Better utilization of these state assets is long overdue as a national policy,” Drilon stressed.

“As I said before, the government does not have to look far to raise additional revenues. There are ‘low-hanging fruits’ the government can immediately tap to provide the much-needed resources for our country to survive this pandemic,” he said.

Drilon noted, for instance, that the privatization of the gaming industry will generate funding for the government to provide more relief to affected Filipinos and, at the same time, manage the country’s growing budget deficit.

In the Senate Committee on Finance’s hearing on the budget of the Department of Finance (DOF) last year, Drilon recalled that Sec. Carlos Dominguez III admitted that privatizing the gaming industry will yield around P300 billion in additional revenues yearly.

“We have an untapped ‘goldmine’ that can generate up to P300 billion in fresh revenues yearly. I hope our economic managers will move faster on this this time, because the effects of COVID-19 pandemic will go beyond 2020,” Drilon said.

Drilon said a widening budget deficit is expected as an aftermath of the pandemic.

The minority leader said that if budget deficit is not arrested early on, programs, including much-needed social and health packages, will suffer in the long run.

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III earlier said that the budget deficit is expected to increase anywhere between 3.2 percent to 5.3 percent. The government’s original target is 3 percent.

Drilon said that the law that he authored, the GOCC Governance Act, allows the President to amend the charter of state-owned corporations, including PAGCOR and PCSO, without going to Congress.

“If the government really wants to generate more funds to help the COVID-19 affected families, let’s privatize PAGCOR and PCSO,” he added.

Aside from privatizing the gaming industry, Drilon said disposing of Camp Aguinaldo and Camp Crame can also help finance the budget deficit and generate funding for COVID-19 response.