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Senate eyes on time passage of 2021 budget

Hananeel Bordey

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To prevent another reenacted budget, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Sonny Angara said they eye the approval of the 2021 national budget before the year ends.

In a radio interview, Angara said that the Senate is already conducting budget briefings with different departments and government agencies so that they can tackle the Senate version of the proposed national budget immediately after the House of Representatives passed their version.

Appropriations bills like the national budget should emanate from the House of Representatives, according to the Constitution.

“Gusto natin on time ang pagpasa ng national budget, January 1 meron na tayong bagong budget para makatulong sa mamamamayan at mga bagong proyekto,” he said.

Angara noted that the feud among lawmakers in the past years have forced the government to implement a reenacted budget due to the delay of the approval of the new budget law.

“We are hoping for (the early approval) dahil nu’ng nagkaroon ng huling bangayan sa Kamara, nu’ng nagpalitan ng liderato noong 2018, medyo na-delay nang kaunti ang 2019 budget. So hopefully, lahat tayo sa Senado, sa Kamara ay natuto na d’yan ang uunahin ay pagpasa ng budget,” Angara hoped.

Angara also responded to criticisms that the 2021 national budget, as proposed by the Executive Department, does not respond to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

He said that the 2021 National Expenditures Program will face numerous debates in Congress and the lawmakers can realign funding from programs that are less priority to those that should need more budget,

“Ongoing pa po ang budget at ang reaksyon natin ay pwede nating i-adjust ang budget, maraming pagdaanan ito. Kahit dumaan na ito sa committee level sa House of Representatives, alam ko hihimayin pa nila ‘yan sa Kamara sa plenaryo tapos kami naman (sa Senado),” he said.

Last week, the House Committee on Appropriations has already finished the budget briefings at the committee level. The bill will be endorsed to the plenary for the second reading.

Both Houses of Congress are now scrutinizing the P4.5-trillion proposed 2021 national budget.

The Department of Education will get the biggest chunk with a total allocation of P754.4 billion.

This is followed by the Department of Public Works and Highways with a proposed budget of P667.3 billion; the Department of Interior and Local Government (P246.1 billion); the Department of National Defense (P209.1 billion); the Department of Health (P203.1 billion); the Department of Social Welfare and Development, (P171.2 billion); the Department of Transportation (P143.6 billion); the Department of Agriculture (P66.4 billion); the Judiciary (P43.5 billion); and the Department of Labor and Employment (P27.5 billion).

 

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