Senate, House kick off bicam on 2022 national budget | Inquirer News
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Senate, House kick off bicam on 2022 national budget

/ 11:48 AM December 06, 2021

Official seals of the Senate and the House of Representatives.

MANILA, Philippines — The Senate and the House of Representatives on Monday began its bicameral deliberations on the proposed P5.024 trillion national budget for 2022 to reconcile the differences between the approved proposals of the two chambers.

The bicameral conference committee held its first meeting under a hybrid set-up, with some members present at the Garden Ballroom of Edsa Shangri-La in Mandaluyong City while others were present through videoconferencing.

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The Senate contingent to the bicam is led by Senate Finance Committee chairman Senator Sonny Angara. He is joined by Senators Pia Cayetano, Cynthia Villar, Joel Villanueva, Sherwin Gatchalian, Richard Gordon, Bong Go, Imee Marcos, Risa Hontiveros, Grace Poe, Ronald Dela Rosa, Nancy Binay, and Juan Miguel Zubiri.

Angara said senators increased the budget of the Department of Health (DOH) to over P230 billion, “much higher” than the P182 billion it was appropriated under the General Appropriations Bill passed by the House.

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The funding increase for the health sector included provision of COVID-19 benefits for both public and private health workers, emergency hiring of health professionals, operation of national laboratories, and hiring of contact tracers.

There were also increases in the budget of the Department of Education, state universities and colleges, and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority to aid the implementation of more face-to-face classes in schools.

Meanwhile, the House of Representatives earmarked an additional P20 billion for the procurement of COVID-19 vaccine and booster shots as well as P4.5 billion for the special risk allowance (SRA) of healthcare workers.

The lower chamber also provided additional budget to the Department of Labor and Employment, Department of Social Welfare and Development, Department of Transportation (DOTr) Department of Information and Communications, and Department of National Defense.

In a text message to Inquirer.net, Angara said the two chambers would need to approve the bicameral conference report “by Wednesday next week at the latest since both houses of Congress will be adjourning until January.”

House Appropriations Committee chairman Rep. Eric Yap, meanwhile, has expressed confidence that differences could be settled in the conference committee.

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TAGS: 2022 budget, Bicam, Congress, House, Senate
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