The Social Housing Finance Corporation (SHFC), the housing agency implementing the government’s social housing program, has imposed an austerity measure through budget cuts in its operation for 2020, with the country saddled with huge expense in the fight against the spread of the deadly Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).
SHFC president Arnolfo Ricardo Cabling said the agency cancelled various activities lined up for the year after the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) issued National Budget Circular (NBC) No. 180 urging all departments and agencies to adopt austerity measures amid the COVID-19 crisis.
In compliance with the circular, Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD) Secretary del Rosario ordered its Key Shelter Agencies (KSA) to adopt austerity measures.
The KSA under DHSUD are the National Housing Authority (NHA), the Home Development Mutual Fund or PagIBIG Fund, the National Home Mortgage Finance Corp. and SHFC.
“As one with the national government in the fight against COVID-19, we should find ways on how to provide much-needed funds in anticipation of the long-term effects of the pandemic,” Sec. Del Rosario said.“The government needs to sustain its efforts to assist our countrymen cope up with the adverse effects of the community quarantine and finally defeat the COVID-19.”
Sec. Del Rosario said, however, that the belt tightening measures should not adversely affect the delivery of vital services of the DHSUD.
State-owned SHFC is the implementor of the government’s socialized housing program carried out by its flagship project Community Mortgage Program (CMP) through long-term, low-interest housing loans extended to organized Home Owners Associations (HOAs) of hundreds of thousands of homeless Filipinos.
In his letter dated April 22, 2020 to Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez, Cabling said “SHFC is committed to support all measures/efforts within its capacity to help fight” COVID-19 and its impact on the housing needs of low-income Filipinos.
“Consistent with the provisions of R. A. 1469, also known as Bayanihan To Heal as One Act of 2020 and the Government Commission for Government-Owned and Controlled Corporations (GCG) Memorandum Order No. 2020-04, the Social Housing Finance Corporation (SHFC) is directed to assess its operation for year and identify Programs, Activities, and Projects (P/A/Ps) which have been adversely affected by COVID-19 and may be discontinued, ” said Cabling.
“These enumerated P/A/Ps with an aggregate fund of Twenty One Milllion One Hundred Nineteen Thousand One Hundred Fifteen Pesos (P21,119.15) from the Corporate Operating Budget are identified by the management to be discontinued. The same was presented to the Governance Policy and Nomination Committee to the Board and approved to be discontinued.”
Cabling assured that the budget cuts will not hamper its mission to provide shelter to homeless Filipinos.In the letter, he said that the austerity measure “will not preclude us from fulfilling our mandate to provide shelter solutions to low income families who are also the most vulnerable in this pandemic.”
“As COVID-19 continues to affect our lives, the poor communities are the most vulnerable. The SHFC is committed to support all measures/efforts within its capacity to help fight this challenge. Rest assured that the current odds will not preclude us from fulfilling our mandate to provide shelter solutions to low income families who are also the most vulnerable in this pandemic, ” Cabling assured.
Other than the belt-tightening budget cuts, SHFC also also declared a three-month moratorium onhousing loan amortizations after President Rodrigo Duterte declared an Emergency Community Quarantine (ECQ) on March 17. The moratorium, involving an estimated P31 billion, would benefit more than 5.5 million member- beneficiaries of the SHFC and the other DHSUD Key Shelter Agencies (KSA).