Zubiri wants P500-B budget for Bayanihan 2
MANILA, Philippines — Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri said Wednesday that a P500 billion-fund will be a “good amount” for the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act or Bayanihan 2, as the upper chamber plans to ask the Department of Finance if it can fund a higher budget for the proposed measure.
The Senate approved on third and final reading on Tuesday the bill that would provide a P140-billion fund to help struggling sectors cope up with the impacts of the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic.
Zubiri acknowledged that the amount is too little compared to the proposed Accelerated Recovery and Investments Stimulus for the Economy Act at the House of Representatives which proposes a P1.3-trillion economic stimulus package, but said the Senate had to approve the P140-budget based on the cap provided by the DOF.
“Honestly, if you ask me, I think P500 billion would be a good amount. We will be able to help micro, small and medium enterprises, we will be able to help the transport industry, we can help the sectors, for example, those who have been displaced,” he said in an interview with ABS-CBN News Channel.
“As the teacher would say ‘finish or not finish, please pass your papers,’ so we passed the papers, but the checking is still with the Executive, we can still amend the law, not to worry with our colleagues with the House of Representatives. We just want to get this done, get to a bicam, let’s meet, and let’s huddle with the DOF to increase the amount,” he added.
Zubiri explained that senators had wanted to pass a higher amount for the bill but had to work with the budget cap of the DOF since they feared a possible veto from the Executive.
“The culprit here, if you want to ask me, honestly and bluntly, Sec. [Carlos] Dominguez had asked us to stay within the cap of P140 billion because they did not have money, they don’t have money they can spend. They don’t want to put an amount that they cannot fund,” said the senator.
He noted that while he lauds the House of Representatives for pushing for a P1.3-trillion economic stimulus package, the DOF may not agree to the amount.
“We are in a stalemate. So what we decided to do in the Senate, let’s pass a version with a cap of the DOF, go into bicam and let’s huddle with the DOF, ‘ano ba talaga (what’s the amount you can provide)?’” he also said.
Zubiri then urged the House of Representatives to constitute its members as soon as possible so that both houses can have a bicameral conference committee within this week and meet together with DOF officials so that the budget for the bill can be reconciled.
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