Despite House approval, Senate sees a reenacted budget in 2019
The government may still have to work under a re-enacted budget at least until January next year, Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri said on Wednesday.
This despite the House of Representatives’ approval of the 2019 General Appropriations Bill (GAB) Tuesday and Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s “request” for the Senate to have it approved before the year ends.
Zubiri said Arroyo made the request after the Senate and House leaders briefly met at the Shangri La hotel in Taguig to discuss the budget, among other things.
Arroyo informed the senators that the House would transmit the GAB by Monday, November 26.
The Speaker then requested the Senate to also start it deliberations on the same week.
“Realistically, ang sagot po ni Senate President (Tito) Sotto, realistically baka hindi na kakayanin na ma-approve iyong budget itong taon na ito,” Zubiri said.
He said the Senate plans to call an all-member caucus once they receive the GAB from the House on Monday. But the earliest the Senate can start its deliberations on the budget would be on Wednesday, November 28.
Because of time constraints, Zubiri said the Senate could only approve the budget on third and final reading by December 12, the last day of session before Congress goes on Christmas break.
He said Congress may convene the bicameral conference committee during the break to deliberate on the budget but the ratification would still have to wait until the sessions resume on January 14.
Once approved in the bicam, the GAB will still have to be sent back to the two chambers of Congress for ratification before it can be transmitted to President Rodrigo Duterte for signature.
“Technically, we may have to have a re-enacted budget of between two weeks to one month,” Zubiri pointed out.
Asked how Arroyo reacted to the senators’ response, he said: “She was quiet about it. She was still hoping that we can pass it earlier.”
“Ang problema talaga ay iyong kasalanan naman ay wala sa amin. Matagal kaming naghihintay para sa (It’s not our fault. We waited a long time for the) deliberations ng national budget although the delay came from the House so really we can’t do anything. We can’t cram,” the Majority Leader said. /ee
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.