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Proposed P5.024-T budget for 2022 now in Senate hands

Ramon Royandoyan - Philstar.com
Proposed P5.024-T budget for 2022 now in Senate hands
Congressmen voted 238-6, with one abstention, in session late Thursday to approve on third and final reading the 2022 General Appropriations Bill after one month of hearings and deliberations in both the appropriations committee and plenary.
STAR / Ernie Penaredondo, file

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte’s final budget is now on the Senate floor for deliberations, as lawmakers target to get the spending plan enacted in time.

It is now Senators’ turn to carefully scrutinize the proposed P5.024-trillion general appropriations bill for next year after the House of Representatives sent the measure to the upper chamber two days ahead of the October 27 target, House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco said in a statement on Wednesday said.

Velasco stressed the importance of timely enactment of the budget bill, as operating under a re-enacted outlay could stall the economy’s fragile recovery from a pandemic-induced meltdown.

On September 30, Congressmen voted 238-6, with one abstention, to approve on third and final reading the 2022 General Appropriations Bill after one month of hearings and deliberations in both the appropriations committee and plenary.

“We cannot afford a reenacted budget, which is expected to dampen the country’s recovery from the COVID-19 crisis. A reenacted budget will definitely ruin our efforts to build back better and deliver much-needed services for our kababayans amid the pandemic,” Velasco said in a statement.

“We hope to give our senators reasonable time to scrutinize and pass their own version of the GAB,” Velasco said.

The record budget for 2022 is equivalent to 22.8% of gross domestic product and is higher by 11.5% than this year’s outlay. The proposed spending plan would keep the government, but more importantly Duterte’s successor, funded amid a costly and long battle against the coronavirus pandemic.

House lawmakers made several revisions to the budget bill, including an increase in funding for vaccine procurement and health workers’ compensation.

Once the Senate approves the proposed spending plan final reading, leaders from both chambers of Congress would have to meet in a bicameral conference to reconcile the differences in the House and Senate versions of the bill, before sending it to Duterte for his signature.

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