House set to pass P4.1 trillion national budget
Published on: Wednesday, September 18, 2019
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Photo Source: philstar.com
MANILA: The House of Representatives is on track to approve the proposed P4.1-trillion national budget for 2020 this week.

“The target is still to pass the budget on second reading on Friday. After it is approved, we will print the budget and pass it on third and final reading and send it to the Senate before we take our first break on Oct. 4,” said Davao City Rep. Isidro Ungab, appropriations committee chairman.

Congress will be on recess from Oct. 5 to Nov. 3. As of Monday morning, Ungab said the House was “already halfway in tackling the budget proposals of all agencies.” He added that there would be enough time for the Senate to tackle the budget and for a bicameral conference to come up with a reconciled version.

Deputy Speaker Mikee Romero of 1-Pacman told reporters that he and his colleagues “will approve the budget on time upon instructions of Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano.”

“The collective leadership of the chamber wants to avoid the budget enactment delay we had this year, which took its toll on the economy. Growth slowed and the adverse effect on the poor in terms of fewer jobs and lesser income is greater than on the rich,” Romero pointed out.

He said the delay in the approval and signing of the 2019 appropriations bill “cost the economy almost P500 billion in six months, or more than P83 billion a month.”

President Rodrigo Duterte’s economic managers, he added, are trying to catch up by ramping up public expenditures, especially for infrastructure projects and social services.

Romero is confident the economy would pick up in this year’s second half.

District representatives affected by President Duterte’s vetoing of P95 billion worth of last-minute insertions for the 2019 budget want to recover the lost funds by adding them to this year’s proposal.

But Cayetano said that is not possible at this point.

“This is a problem that we just have to be honest with the congressmen, that it might not be solvable in the budget for next year,” he said.

Cayetano suggested that his colleagues discuss their vetoed projects with public works officials for possible funding in the 2021 budget because the only way to recover that amount is to realign funds from departments and other agencies.

This, however, would mean sacrificing the operations of these offices and some social services, he added.

Officials and employees in the bureaucracy – from President Duterte down to the lowest-paid clerk or janitor – will get a 15-percent salary increase over three years or five percent per year, Albay Rep. Joey Salceda, who chairs the House committee on ways and means, said Monday. 


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