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House approves 2020 budget in record time



The House of Representatives late Friday night announced that it has approved the proposed P4.1 trillion 2020 national budget bill on its third and final reading, just after President Rodrigo Duterte submitted the spending plan to Congress just last month and certified House Bill 4228 as urgent on Thursday.

In record-breaking fashion, legislators finished the second and the third readings on the same day, waiving the three-day wait period between votes on the two readings as lawmakers who voted yes numbered 257, while there were six nays and no one abstained.

The approval of the 2020 national budget was unprecedented, according to the House Committee on Rules, noting that the President submitted the spending plan to Congress last month.

Historically, budget bills are passed not earlier than October. This time, it took only 20 working days within a period of 30 days to get the job done in mid-September and to recall, the 16th Congress passed the 2016 budget on 9 October 2015 during President Benigno Aquino III’s administration.

It can also be remembered that under President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, the 13th Congress green-lit the budget on 13 October 2006.

The biggest chunk of the national budget — according to the House — went to the Department of Education (DepEd), which stands to receive P673 billion as it is expected to fund state schools, among others.

The second highest appropriation went to the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) with P534.3 billion, followed by the departments of the Interior and Local Government (P238 billion), Social Welfare and Development (P195 billion) and National Defense (P189 billion).

It can be recalled that the President on Thursday certified urgent House Bill 4228 or the proposed 2020 national budget and called for its immediate passage to “maintain continuous government operations.”

The government operated on a reenacted budget from January this year until the 2019 budget was signed last April, which slowed gross domestic product growth in the first half.