Newly signed P4.5-trillion budget will help economy heal from COVID – Duterte | Inquirer News
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Newly signed P4.5-trillion budget will help economy heal from COVID – Duterte

By: - Reporter / @JeromeAningINQ
/ 05:40 AM December 29, 2020

President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday signed into law the P4.5-trillion General Appropriations Act for 2021, which, he said, would enable the economy to heal from the debilitating effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

In his speech during the signing ceremony at Malacañang, Mr. Duterte said one of the most important items in the national budget was the P72.5 billion for the purchase, storage, transportation and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines.

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The President did not say if he vetoed any item in the budget.

He said he was “pleased” that through the budget, his administration would be able to continue to pursue its flagship infrastructure program, revitalize industries and the services sector, and support social services projects.

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Efficient use of resources

“As we look forward with hope for the coming year, let me assure the public that this administration will ensure efficient use of resources through sound fiscal policy that will enable us to overcome the debilitating effects of the pandemic on public health and our economy,” Mr. Duterte said.

“I cannot stress this enough: Every centavo of this budget must be spent to ensure our nation’s recovery, resilience and sustainability. Let me therefore [give] assurance to the Filipino people [that] this coming year we intend to recover as one nation,” he said.

The President said he was “happy and proud” to sign the budget bill, the passage of which, according to him, attested to the importance of an “active and fruitful” collaboration between the executive and legislative branches of government, especially during the pandemic.

“The prompt ratification of the 2021 national budget is a testament to our commitment to set aside divisive partisan politics. Indeed at this crucial junction in our history, we can no longer afford to engage in the politics of division, hate and finger-pointing,” he said.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III, House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco, Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado, other lawmakers and government officials attended the signing ceremony.

Key to economic recovery

Velasco said the 2021 budget reflected the government’s “serious commitment and strong resolve to defeat the virus and bring the economy back on track.”

Besides the P72.5 billion for COVID-19 vaccines, he said P2 billion had been allocated for the purchase of personal protective equipment “to ensure that our health workers are safe as they carry out their duty of saving every patient from the virus.”

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Velasco thanked his colleagues in the House of Representatives and the Senate for working hard to enact the budget bill on time.

In a statement, Rep. Joey Salceda, head of the House ways and means committee, said “the key to economic recovery in 2021 will be quick and effective government spending to support economic activity.”

“The items appropriated in the budget will have to be completed as fast as possible. So the House will continue to be on the lookout to ensure that there are no unfinished programs or low-disbursement social services,” Salceda said.

—With a report from Nestor Corrales

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TAGS: 2021 national budget, coronavirus pandemic, coronavirus Philippines, COVID-19, Rodrigo Duterte
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