2022 budget plan being printed

Helen Flores, Delon Porcalla, Paolo Romero - The Philippine Star
2022 budget plan being printed
At a press briefing, Roque said Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado was able to submit to the Palace the P5.024-trillion National Expenditure Program (NEP) for 2022 before he went on medical leave.
STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — The government’s national expenditure plan for 2022 is being printed and readied for submission to Congress as scheduled, presidential spokesman Harry Roque said yesterday.

At a press briefing, Roque said Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado was able to submit to the Palace the P5.024-trillion National Expenditure Program (NEP) for 2022 before he went on medical leave.

“We are now printing the national expenditure plan for submission to Congress,” Roque said. The executive department usually submits its budget plan to Congress after the President’s delivery of State of the Nation Address. President Duterte delivered his last SONA on July 26.

There were rumors that Avisado had resigned from his post. “As of now, those are rumors because I received a copy of the press release of the DBM,” Roque said, referring to the Department of Budget and Management.

“I have no basis to question the accuracy of that press release. He’s on medical leave,” he added.

In a statement on Saturday, the DBM said Avisado would be on medical leave from Aug. 2 to 13 after being hospitalized for COVID-19.

He was advised by his doctor to undertake a “series of examinations” as it has been 14 years since the secretary had a quadruple heart bypass, the department said.

“Rest assured that the DBM remains steadfast and committed to its mandate of promoting the efficient and effective management of the national budget to support its budget priorities especially in the midst of the pandemic.”

Sen. Panfilo Lacson said Avisado’s going on leave should not delay the submission of the budget plan to Congress.

Lacson, vice chairman of the Senate finance committee, said the DBM “has an abundance of competent and capable career undersecretaries and assistant secretaries who can avail of existing telecommunication technology for his guidance and direction.”

“So I cannot see any reason for the delay in the constitutionally mandated 30-day period after the July 26 SONA submission of the NEP to Congress,” Lacson told reporters in a text message.

He said the timely submission of the measure would allow the Senate finance panel and the appropriations committee of the House of Representatives to start their respective hearings on the proposed budget.

The Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC) has approved the expenditure ceiling in the 2022 NEP at P5.024 trillion, 11.5 percent higher than the 2021 NEP.

The senator earlier said the Senate will thoroughly scrutinize the proposed budget but will make sure that Congress passes the measure on time to avoid the possibility of having a reenacted budget amid preparations for the May 2022 general elections.

Lacson has said he and his fellow senators will do their duty to scrutinize the proposed budget and pass it before Congress’ December break.

“The passage of the national budget bill will not be delayed if we can help it. While we are aware of the Oct. 1-8 schedule for filing of certificates of candidacy, we can assure our people that the preparations for the 2022 elections will not disrupt our efforts to scrutinize and pass the national budget,” Lacson said in a statement.

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