Senate, House agree on P4.5-T budget
MANILA, Philippines — The bicameral congressional conference committee for the government’s spending plan for 2021 has agreed on the final version of the proposed P4.5-trillion budget that will ostensibly fund responses to the COVID-19 pandemic and recovery as well as rehabilitation measures for typhoon-hit provinces.
It took the Senate and the House of Representatives less than a week to agree on amendments to the spending measure, which was finalized at a Makati City hotel on Wednesday morning.
The reconciled version was then presented and approved by the House while the Senate was also expected to accept the final version later on Wednesday.
The bill, to be known as the General Appropriations Act of 2021, will then be printed and submitted to President Duterte who has until the end of the year to sign it into law or veto certain items.
“This budget reflects the serious commitment of the Duterte government to defeat COVID-19 and bring the economy back on track,” Speaker Lord Allan Velasco after the House vote.
“When we keep our commitments to our fellow Filipinos and continue to put their interests first, we will surely overcome the health, social and economic impacts of the pandemic,” he said.
But opposition lawmakers were dismayed that the bicameral process was not transparent.
Gabriela Rep. Arlene Brosas said the process was “only a ceremonial open-close program which offered limited transparency.”
“Only a few officials were chosen to finalize the amendments — out of public scrutiny amid the rampant red-tagging,” Brosas said of the bicameral conference.
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