House eyes Duterte OK of 2020 nat’l budget before Christmas
MANILA, Philippines — The House of Representatives sees the passage of the proposed 2020 national budget in just four months, with President Rodrigo Duterte signing it into law by December 20.
Based on the draft budget calendar of the House committee on appropriations as of Tuesday, August 6, the President would submit the Executive branch-proposed P4.1-trillion National Expenditure Program (NEP) to the chamber on August 15. The budget committee deliberations will then begin on August 22 and may run until September 9.
The panel also eyed the third and final reading approval of the 2020 General Appropriations Bill (GAB) by October 4, consistent with the earlier pronouncements of Majority Leader and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez as well as House ways and means panel chair and Albay 2nd District Rep. Joey Salceda. The bicameral conference committee meetings, meanwhile, are tentatively set from November 25 to December 8.
The House appropriations committee also wants the ratification of the 2020 GAB by House and Senate officials on December 19, and Duterte’s approval the next day.
Appropriations panel chair and Davao City 3rd District Rep. Isidro Ungab said the timeline is still subject to revisions, depending on the submission of the NEP by the Executive department.
“Rest assured we will strive to expedite the approval of the general appropriations bill at the lower house,” Ungab told INQUIRER.net on Wednesday.
Minority Leader and Manila 6th District Rep. Bienvenido Abante Jr. said their group would exercise their duty to scrutinize the budget proposal.
“In just over two weeks, we will be diving into one of the primary responsibilities of Congress, the deliberations of the 2020 national budget. The committee on appropriations recently released the schedule of budget briefings and it suffices to say that we would have a very busy month ahead,” Abante said during the Minority bloc’s press conference Wednesday.
“We will make sure to count every peso if that is what it takes to make sure that our resources are properly allocated,” the lawmaker added.
To recall, Congress’ passage of 2019’s P3.8 trillion national budget was delayed due to bickering among legislators about alleged illegal insertions. This led to the slow growth of the country’s gross domestic product, according to Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia.
The House approved the 2019 GAB on November 20 last year, but both chambers managed to ratify it only on February 8. The President signed this year’s expenditure plan last April 15, also vetoing some P93.5 billion that was “not within the programmed priorities” of the Duterte administration.
If the 18th Congress fails to pass the 2020 budget by the end of December, the country would more likely operate under a 2019 reenacted budget. /kga
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