Despite delays, Sotto expects passage of 2022 budget before Christmas
MANILA, Philippines — Despite delays in the deliberations of the Senate due to recent COVID-19 related events, Senate President Vicente Sotto III said the 2022 national budget may still be passed before Christmas.
Sotto made the remark after Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, who was present during the Senate plenary debates on the budget of the Department of National Defense (DND), tested positive for COVID-19—prompting the upper chamber to temporarily suspend the budget deliberations until Monday next week.
Due to the delay, Sotto said the Senate is eyeing to finish the budget deliberations by Monday or Tuesday next week. Once in the bicameral conference committee, the Senate President said they are pushing to finish the budget by the first or second week of December.
“Hopefully ‘yung target namin na matapos kami in the bicam in the first week of December is still possible. Huwag lang mag-dra-drag on ‘yung bicam,” Sotto said in a press forum.
(Hopefully, our target to finish this in the bicam by the first week of December is still possible, unless this drags on the bicam.)
“So, right now, assessment—it’s a four-day delay. But a four-delay is not too bad, considering that we were supposed to end budget approval and all by the first week of December. So, it will become the second week of December,” he added.
Sotto said that the signing of the congressional leaders once both houses ratify the bicameral conference committee-approved version of the 2022 budget may happen on December 21.
After Lorenzana tested positive for COVID-19, the Senate temporarily suspended its budget deliberations. It will resume on Monday, November 22.
“There will be a delay. We will just have to work double-time. In other words, we will try to squeeze in on Monday, even if it takes us to finish until the wee hours of the morning and Tuesday, we will have to squeeze it in,” Sotto said.
“Supposed to be there is a session today and we had to finish everything by tonight… but because of what happened, we will have to try Monday, finish everything until the wee hours of [Tuesday] morning,” he added.
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