Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III ordered state-run pension funds Government Service Insurance System and Social Security System to support the reeling local bourse by increasing their daily investments to counter the impact of the coronavirus disease, or COVID-19, to financial markets.
In a Viber message to reporters Friday, Dominguez said he instructed GSIS and SSS to “take advantage of the low stock prices as well as to support the stock market by at least doubling their daily average purchase volumes of last year.”
Dominguez did not say how much investments SSS and GSIS had made in stocks right now. “I don’t have those figures,” he said.
He said in an earlier comment the country and the government had all the tools—medical, financial, and monetary—to successfully handle the current situation.
Dominguez’s instruction came after the stock market on Thursday suffered its second biggest single-day loss since the global financial crisis in 2008. The Philippine Stock Exchange Index plunged to a seven-year low after the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus disease 2019 as a pandemic.
The 30-company Phisix sank 616 points, or 9.7 percent, to close at 5,736.27 Thursday. It was the second worst one-day drop since Oct. 27, 2008 at the height of the global financial crisis.
It plunged deeper by 10.33 percent at 2:53 p.m., triggering the circuit breaker that allowed the bourse to implement a 15-minute trading halt. The break aimed to give investors time to digest the impact of an unusual market drop and help restore normalcy to the stock market.
The index was down more than 2,000 points, or 26.6 percent since the start of the year that signaled a bear market.
Anxiety over the virus heightened after the government reported new COVID-19 cases in the country.
President Rodrigo Duterte underwent a precautionary test for the virus, along with Senator Bong Go, while Dominguez, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Benjamin Diokno and other Cabinet secretaries and a number of senators decided to go on a self-quarantine after they were exposed to a person who tested positive for COVID-19.
Dominguez also said the DoF secured P2.5 billion and P450 million from Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. and the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office, respectively, to fund the program of the Department of Health to combat the disease. Part of the funds will be use to finance the acquisition of the test kits.
“Moreover, the DoF successfully negotiated for the ADB to give a $3-million grant to the DoH for COVID-19 control,” Dominguez said.