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Duterte asked to certify 2022 national budget

Edu Punay - The Philippine Star
Duterte asked to certify 2022 national budget
The certificate would allow both the House and the Senate to pass the 2022 GAB on second and third reading on the same day and do away with the rule requiring a three-day interval between the two votings.
Boy Santos, file

MANILA, Philippines — The House of Representatives has formally asked President Duterte to push for immediate passage by Congress of the P5.024-trillion General Appropriations Bill (GAB) for 2022.

Speaker Lord Allan Velasco and appropriations committee chair Eric Yap sought the issuance of a certificate of urgency on the 2022 national budget from the Chief Executive in a letter earlier this week.

The certificate would allow both the House and the Senate to pass the 2022 GAB on second and third reading on the same day and do away with the rule requiring a three-day interval between the two votings.

Yap said the President’s call for the swift passage of the record budget would enable the House to pass the measure on Sept. 30, before Congress goes on recess for the filing of certificates of candidacy for the elections starting Oct. 1.

“We need to meet our target of passing the budget bill by Sept. 30 to give the Senate ample period for deliberations.

We cannot afford a delayed budget that will result in a reenacted budget at this time of pandemic,” the congressman stressed.

Velasco shared this view and rallied members of the House to support their target schedule.

“We definitely need the cooperation and support by the members of the House.

We can actually execute the second and third reading by Sept. 30,” the Marinduque congressman vowed.

Congress is set to go into break from Oct. 1 to Nov. 7 as candidates for all national and local positions file their COCs for next year’s poll.

About 30 government agencies and attached agencies, commissions, bureaus and offices have yet to hurdle the House plenary deliberations on their respective budget allocations for 2022.

Meanwhile, a House leader has sought an increase in the proposed funding for relief and recovery of small businesses affected by the pandemic.

Deputy Speaker Wes Gatchalian lamented the P2.5-billion funding for assistance to micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in the P23.7-billion budget for 2022 will not be enough to help them recover from the impact of the pandemic.

He instead pushed for a P1.6-billion increase in the proposed budget of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) next year to aid MSMEs.

The Valenzuela congressman filed Resolution No. 2228 that seeks realignment of funds from other agencies to bolster the DTI’s MSME assistance programs.

“There is an immediate need to provide further assistance for the upskilling and reskilling of our MSMEs as we transition to digitization in these new times,” the House leader stressed.

He lamented DTI’s estimates that around 10 percent of MSMEs as of June have been forced to shut down permanently due to lack of sales or meager returns on investment.

Gatchalian said DTI’s 2022 allocation is not enough to help the one million registered MSMEs, as well as the four million unregistered enterprises that have also been affected by the crisis.

“We need to increase the overall budget of the DTI for MSMEs. We need to prioritize the MSMEs amid this pandemic.

DTI will play big role in jump-starting the MSMEs. We need to strengthen entrepreneurship in the country.

Our government should be more aggressive in rolling out loans for MSMEs,” he argued.

Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez revealed during an earlier budget briefing that the DTI’s funds for next year for MSMEs are sufficient to support only 500,000 businesses.

He said that the 2022 budget for MSME loans is P1.5 billion while P1 billion has been allotted for livelihood kits.

The department can also tap P2 billion to P3 billion in cash remaining from the Bayanihan 2 economic stimulus package intended for MSMEs.

Of the P23.7 billion, only P6.6 billion is allocated to the DTI while the bulk of the budget is allocated to Technical Education and Skills Development Authority amounting to P13.6 billion.

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