Bicam panel signs report on proposed 2020 national budget
MANILA, Philippines — The proposed P4.1 trillion national budget for 2020 is now a step closer to becoming a law after the Senate-House panel signed and approved Wednesday morning the committee report on next year’s spending bill.
True to its earlier pronouncements, the bicameral conference committee gave swift approval to the expenditure plan after just two public meetings and several closed-door talks. The first one happened last November 29 also here at the Manila Polo Club in Makati City.
Present during the approval were Senate finance committee chair Sonny Angara, Senators Sherwin Gatchalian, Nancy Binay, Imee Marcos, Francis Pangilinan, Richard Gordon, Christopher Go, Cynthia Villar, Ralph Recto, Grace Poe and Joel Villanueva and Juan Miguel Zubiri.
The House contingent meanwhile was led by Majority Leader and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez and House appropriations chair and Davao 3rd District Rep. Isidro Ungab. Joining the contingent were Reps. Joey Salceda, Luis Raymund Villafuerte, Neptali Gonzales, Jose Antonio Sy-Alvarado, Lucy Torres-Gomez, Bernadette Herrera-Dy, Alfred Vargas, Edcel Lagman, Janette Garin, Ronaldo Zamora, Romeo Momo Sr., Jocelyn Limkaichong, Teodorico Haresco Jr., Juan Pablo Bondoc, Junie Cua, Minority Leader Bienvenido Abante Jr., Michael John Duavit, Cristal Bagatsing and Aurelio Gonzales Jr.
The Senate and House are also expected to ratify the budget bill later in the afternoon during their respective sessions in Pasay City and in Batasan, Quezon City.
Ungab said they plan to submit the 2020 General Appropriations Bill (GAB) to President Rodrigo Duterte by December 21. He has until December 31 to sign the GAB to prevent a reenacted budget come January 1, 2020.
The detailed amendments to the spending bill have yet to be released but next year’s budget is significantly higher compared with 2019’s P3.757 trillion. The discrepancies in the version of the Senate and the House were reportedly seen in the budgets of the Departments of Health, Transportation, and Public Works and Highways.
Congress’ passage of the 2019 GAB was delayed until February 8 this year due to bickering among legislators about alleged illegal pork barrel and insertions. Duterte signed the 2019 expenditure plan last April 15, but he vetoed some P93.5 billion that was “not within the programmed priorities” of his administration.
Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia said the budget delay led to the slow growth of the country’s gross domestic product.