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House panel targets 2022 budget approval in a week

Edu Punay - The Philippine Star
House panel targets 2022 budget approval in a week
Committee chairman Eric Yap said yesterday that they are set to hold and complete hearings for four departments per day, allowing them to swiftly submit the budget bill to the House plenary for deliberation.
STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — Marathon hearings will be held by the House appropriations committee to ensure that the budget bill for 2022 is passed by the panel in one week’s time.

Committee chairman Eric Yap said yesterday that they are set to hold and complete hearings for four departments per day, allowing them to swiftly submit the budget bill to the House plenary for deliberation.

The ACT-CIS party-list and Benguet caretaker congressman said this is feasible since the House leadership has met with officials of the executive branch during the two-month session break prior to the resumption of session last week.

“Together with the Speaker and party leaders, we already met with the department secretaries one by one and discussed the 2022 budget, so that we can have smooth deliberations in Congress,” Yap explained in an interview by phone.

He said this would allow the House to meet its target of completing deliberations on the national budget by October, despite the suspension of congressional sessions during the two-week lockdown on Aug. 6-20.

“This budget cannot be delayed because this is our last budget (in 18th Congress) and we are in a pandemic so we can’t afford a reenacted budget,” he stressed.

Yap said the Palace has until Aug. 26 to submit the 2022 National Expenditure Program (NEP) to Congress.

“From what we know, they (Palace) will submit it by Aug. 23 and only then can we start the hearings and prepare the budget bill. The suspension of session will be until Aug. 20 only, so by that time we can start the hearings already,” he said.

Yap admitted that the House’s target of passing the proposed P5-trillion budget in less than two months or before the filing of certificates of candidacy in October will be a daunting task.

“The challenge for us is to finish sessions early, by Oct. 1, for the filing of candidacies. By that time, the budget should already be passed on third reading. That’s why we have to work on it and set the calendar backwards,” he stressed.

Meanwhile, economist and Marikina Rep. Stella Quimbo supported the proposed P5.024-trillion budget for 2022 submitted by the Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC) to the Palace.

Quimbo, the deputy minority leader, explained that raising the ceiling of the national budget will allow the government to spend more on programs that will revitalize the economy and create more jobs.

“For our economy to recover, it is vital that government spends big and enacts larger funding for its operations and COVID response in the coming year,” she said.

Quimbo lamented how the country’s gross domestic product went down by 9.6 percent last year due to the lower consumption spending as a result of the pandemic.

She said the proposed 2022 budget, which is higher by 11.5 percent than the P4.5-trillion budget this year, could be a tool for economic recovery and put the Philippines on a trajectory of growth.

ACT-CIS BUDGET
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