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House transmits 2022 GAB to Senate ahead of target date

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The House of Representatives transmitted the proposed P5.024-trillion national budget for 2022 to the Senate last Monday, 25 October, House Committee on Appropriations chairperson Rep. Eric Yap confirmed to Daily Tribune on Wednesday.

The House version of the 2022 General Appropriations Bill (GAB) was transmitted to the Upper House two days earlier than the Lower House’s original target date of 27 October.

The lower chamber finalized its amendments on House Bill no. 10153 through a small committee last 14 October.

“In line with our commitment to ensure the timely enactment of next year’s national budget, we have transmitted to the Senate the 2022 GAB duly approved by the House ahead of schedule,” Velasco said.

“In doing so, we hope to give our senators reasonable time to scrutinize and pass their own version of the GAB as we look forward to the bicameral conference where we can thresh out and reconcile the differing provisions of the House and Senate versions,” he added.

The Marinduque lawmaker expressed optimism that Congress is on schedule to send the all-important budget measure to President Rodrigo Duterte for his signature by December this year.

Velasco said he was “extremely hopeful that the proposed P5.024-trillion national budget will help propel the Philippine economy to a strong recovery starting 2022.”

“We cannot afford a reenacted budget, which is expected to dampen the country’s recovery from the COVID-19 crisis,” he underscored.

“A reenacted budget will definitely ruin our efforts to build back better and deliver much-needed services for our kababayans amid the pandemic,” he added.

Under the amended version, an additional P20 billion was earmarked for the purchase of Covid-19 vaccines and booster shots and P4.5 billion for the special risk allowance (SRA) of frontline medical workers and the provision of P5 billion to medical assistance to indigent patients, including their hospitalization.

Some P5.5 billion was appropriated for the down payment for the acquisition of 5 Units of C-130J for the Humanitarian Assistance Disaster Relief operations of the Philippine Air Force.

The lower chamber earmarked P10 billion for the Department of Labor and Employment’s (DoLE) assistance to displaced workers; P10 billion for Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to aid disadvantaged Filipinos; and P1 billion for the enrollment of qualified household beneficiaries to technical and vocational skills training.

For the Department of Transportation (DOTr), P6 billion additional funding was allocated to aid transport drivers and operators while P3 billion for the Department of Information and Communications’ (DICT) National Broadband program.

However, Velasco has yet to disclose which programs suffered cuts for the programs that received additional funding.

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