On 5 June 2020, the House of Representatives approved, on third and final reading, House Bill No. 6920 (in substitution of House Bill No. 6709), proposing a law to be known as The Covid-19 Unemployment Reduction Economic Stimulus (CURES) Act of 2020. Here are the salient features of engrossed copy of House Bill No. 6920:
SCOPE OF THE CURES ACT
The proposed law seeks to establish a Special Fund that shall be disbursed primarily for the implementation of infrastructure projects across these priority areas: Health, Education, Agriculture, Local Roads/Infrastructure and Livelihood (HEAL). The proposed law also seeks to define the guidelines, criteria, and standards in accessing, implementation, and evaluation of use of the fund.
The funding shall be for construction and construction-related activities (e.g., repair, improvement, etc.) purposes, but may include the procurement of necessary and essential equipment and implements for the operations of the same. However, NO money shall be used for the payment of: (a) personnel services; (b) job order salaries; (c) professional and consultancy fees; and (d) conduct of trainings, seminars, sports and cultural activities, of the Local Government Units (LGUs) where the projects are located.
THE CURES FUND
The amount of One Trillion Five Hundred Billion Pesos (PhP 1.5 Trillion) is appropriated for the establishment of the Covid-19 Unemployment Reduction Economic Stimulus (CURES) Fund. The total amount shall be made available for three fiscal years, as follows:
- First year: 500 Billion
- Second year: 500 Billion
- Third Year: 500 Billion
The budget for approved projects shall be automatically released to the implementing unit in order to facilitate the start-up and completion of projects.
Eligible projects shall be located in an areas that, on the date of the submission of the application by the designated department or agency of the National Government, shall meet the priority guidelines for the fiscal year under consideration by the Executive Cluster Committee.
No project shall be approved unless the proponent can demonstrate that actual work on the same can realistically commence within a period of 90 working days from release of the Special Allotment Release Order (SARO) from the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).
CURES FUND EXECUTIVE CLUSTER COMMITTEE
An Executive Cluster Committee is created for the purpose of formulating guidelines for the implementation of the CURES Act, and receive/approve project applications. The Executive Cluster Committee shall be composed of the following:
|Chairperson||Secretary of the Presidential Advisor for Flagship Programs and Projects|
|Vice-Chairs||Secretary of Public Works and Highways|
|Secretary of Finance|
|Members||Secretary of Health|
|Secretary of Education|
|Secretary of Agriculture|
|Secretary of Trade and Industry|
|Secretary of Interior and Local Government|
|Secretariat||Director-General of the National Economic Development Authority|
Within 15 days form the approval of the proposed law, the Executive Cluster Committee shall convene to formulate the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) which shall include among others, if deemed necessary, the standard formula calculating the multiplier effect of the infrastructure project to be implemented considering its effects on local employment and job creation as the primary screening factor in project selection and approval.
An open and publicly accessible ONLINE portal shall be established and maintained for the monitoring of funded projects.
The implementation of the CURES Fund shall be undertaken by the national government departments / agencies authorized by law or their charter to implement such class of projects. However, these departments or agencies may enter into a Memorandum of Agreement with LGUs, provided that the LGUs have the capacity to implement and maintain the infrastructure after construction.
- 1. Construction/ improvement / expansion of barangay or municipal health centers, or the procurement of start-up equipment and supplies for new/ existing facilities under this class;
- 2. Construction/ improvement / expansion of municipal or city health clinics, hospitals, and other facilities, or the procurement of start-up equipment and supplies for new/ existing facilities under this class;
- 3. Construction/ improvement / expansion of provincial and district hospitals and municipal health centers, and the procurement of start-up equipment and supplies for new/ existing facilities under this class;
- 4. Construction of testing centers and isolation facilities for communicable diseases and additional intensive care units at local hospitals;
- 5. Purchase of IT equipment or laboratory facilities to enable immediate coordinated health response to suppress transmission of contagious or communicable diseases, information exchange, and contact tracing;
- 6. Purchase of equipment to upgrade hospital records into an electronic health records system;
- 7. Infrastructure investment for “telehealth” services, e-prescriptions, and mobile or remote access to health records;
- 8. Purchase of cloud-based platforms for clinical data analysis, management, and consolidation;
- 9. Construction of wastewater or sewage treatment plants or disposal facilities to minimize chemical and microbial hazards associated in human and hospital waste.
- 1. Construction of washing and sanitation areas, toilets in every school;
- 2. Construction/ repair/ improvement of other school facilities for industrial arts, culinary services, libraries, covered courts, etc.
- 3. Construction/ repair/ improvement of alternative learning centers, including E-Learning System classrooms and the procurement of equipment and supplies for the operations of facilities under this class;
- 4. Construction/ repair/ improvement of youth civic centers, gymnasiums, and sports or athletic facilities;
- 5. Construction/ improvement or expansion of technical-vocational learning centers and the procurement of equipment and supplies for the operations of facilities under this class; and
- 6. The establishment of digital infrastructure (IT facilities IT hubs) in any public educational, training, or learning institution and the procurement of equipment and supplies that will facilitate Electronic Learning / Remote or Distance learning in the localities.
- 1. Construction/ repair/ improvement of municipal, provincial fish ports or docks (with ample space that could support social distancing for direct buyers) and their connecting road/access networks and other necessary buildings/attached facilities;
- 2. Construction/ repair/ improvement of post-harvest facilities (including cold storage facilities, fish landing for aqua-fisheries, meat processing and packaging centers for commercial distribution, etc.) and the procurement of farming machinery or equipment and fishery equipment (motorized fishing vessels, gill nets, etc.) for facilities and activities under this class;
- 3. Construction/ repair/ improvement of municipal/ provincial livestock facilities, hatcheries, fish nurseries, and other aqua-fisher facilities;
- 4. Construction/ repair/ improvement of barangay/ municipal/ city/ provincial trading (bagsakan) centers, food terminals, and/or satellite markets following a floor plan that allows social distancing;
- 5. Construction/ repair/ improvement of municipal/ city/ provincial abattoirs and hazard free packaging facilities;
- 6. Construction/ repair/ improvement of barangay/ municipal/ provincial agricultural training centers, nurseries, and other agri-fishery research and development facilities;
- 7. Construction/ repair/ improvement of drainage and irrigation systems for flood-prone agricultural areas;
- 8. Construction or acquisition of more modern fishing vessels for cooperatives and fabrication of more fishnets, and other agri-fishery implements; and
- 9. Construction of alternative livelihood facilities for agricultural workers that would involve processing economically significant agri-business output.
LOCAL ROADS/ INFRASTRUCTURE AND LIVELIHOOD PROJECTS
- 1. Construction or expansion of farm-to-market roads with adjoining solar drying pavements to facilitate transport of goods and supplies;
- 2. Construction/ repair/ improvement of provincial, municipal or barangay roads affecting vulnerable communities;
- 3. Construction/ repair/ improvement of local roads (provincial, municipal and/or barangay), roads, and other networks connecting schools, state-owned universities and colleges, and government-operated community colleges to communities;
- 4. Construction/ repair/ improvement of local roads (provincial, municipal and/or barangay) connecting communities to health facilities (hospitals, testing centers, reserved quarantine and isolation facilities, etc.);
- 5. Construction of provincial, municipal and/or barangay new road openings;
- 6. Construction of walking or bicycle lanes projects and construction of bridges across creeks or irrigation canals;
- 7. Construction of evacuation centers and disasters emergency facilities;
- 8. Construction, expansion or improvement of roads / pedestrian lanes in provinces outside the National Capital Region (NCR) that go to tourist facilities, beach areas or mountain parks and/or roads going to new business districts, new economic zones or MSME business hubs;
- 9. The implementation of an Enhanced Sustainable Livelihood Program under the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD);
- 10. The implementation of an Enhanced Tupad Program under the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE);
- 11. The implementation of the proposed Barangay Emergency Employment Program (BEEP) under the DOLE to generate employment and mitigate unemployment due to COVID-19 and ensure income for formal and informal sectors during the post-COVID-19 recovery stage;
- 12. The establishment of access to credit and financing for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs);
- 13. The establishment of Research and Development (R&D) programs for product development and enterprise diversification;
- 14. Building / construction of integrated agricultural processing facilities for high-value agricultural products;
- 15. The building/ construction of production hubs and local livelihood product marketing and trading centers to improve trade linkages and partnerships;
- 16. The enhancement of human resources capacity such as Technical Vocational Training and Education and the construction of training centers and knowledge transfer facilities.