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No reenacted budget for 2022 – Speaker

Delon Porcalla - The Philippine Star
No reenacted budget for 2022 â Speaker
“Our intention in passing this budget is two-fold: Addressing the pandemic while paving the way towards revitalizing our economy,” Speaker Lord Allan Velasco said, adding there should be “sufficient funding” to fight the pandemic and enough funding as well to revitalize the economy.
The STAR / Felicer Santos

MANILA, Philippines — Speaker Lord Allan Velasco assured the public that the House of Representatives intends to submit to the Senate the approved P5.024-trillion national budget for 2022 on Oct. 27 so that President Duterte can sign the bill by December.

At the same time, the House leader said the “overall objective” is for the Chief Executive to sign the General Appropriations Bill (GAB) “to prevent a reenacted budget that could slow down economic growth and hamper the delivery of government services.”

“It is important to us that the national budget is passed on time to enable the government to implement programs and projects in a timely manner,” the lone Marinduque congressman added.

The Speaker gave assurance that the printed copy of the House-approved GAB will be transmitted to the Senate on or before Oct. 27 to give senators ample time to scrutinize as well the government’s spending plan for next year.

“Our intention in passing this budget is two-fold: Addressing the pandemic while paving the way towards revitalizing our economy,” Velasco said, adding there should be “sufficient funding” to fight the pandemic and enough funding as well to revitalize the economy.

The Speaker’s remarks were borne out of the reenacted budget in 2019 where lawmakers fought each other over district allocations, as a result of the July 2018 ouster of Pantaleon Alvarez from the speakership and his replacement by former president and then Pampanga representative Gloria Arroyo.

Allies of both Arroyo and Alvarez were constantly at loggerheads, jeopardizing the 2019 budget.

Arroyo was installed overwhelmingly by her House colleagues, upon the intervention of Duterte’s daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, who was furious after Alvarez bragged to a diplomat that he can impeach Duterte anytime he wants.

The House finally finished last week amendments which lawmakers introduced to the P5.024 trillion national budget for 2022, two weeks after lawmakers voted 238-6 to approve the GAB.

“The fiscal 2022 national budget is crucial for our full recovery from the pandemic as a nation. After careful consideration and consultations, we have finalized the amendments for House Bill 10153,” Rep. Eric Go Yap, chairman of the House appropriations committee, said.

HB 10153 is the 2022 GAB that will be transmitted to the Senate on Oct. 27, or almost two weeks before both houses of Congress resume sessions on Nov. 8.

Budget amendments to agencies

Among the highlights of the amendments to HB 10153 are those from the Department of Health, where P20 billion was earmarked for the procurement of COVID-19 “booster shots,” and P5 billion for Medical Assistance to Indigent Patients.

Another P4.5 billion was allotted for the Special Risk Allowance of “qualified public and private health workers” who previously have staged a series of protests after the government failed to deliver its promise of giving them more incentives.

As for the Department of Labor and Employment, a total of P10 billion was allotted for the agency’s Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers program where indigent and informal sector families will get aid.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development, for its part, will have P10 billion for its program on Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situation, which includes food assistance, food packs, transportation, medical, burial assistance, assistance to students.

DSWD’s Sustainable Livelihood Program, meantime, has a P1 billion budget which will help them enable each qualified household beneficiary to enroll in two different tracks – Micro-Enterprise Development and Employment Facilitation through tech-voc skills.

The Service Contracting Program under the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) of the Department of Transportation will enjoy a P6-billion budget for 2022, where LTFRB will extend financial assistance to drivers and operators to tide them over their “decreased income” due to the pandemic.

The Department of National Defense was also earmarked P5.5 billion which it can use for the down payment of its acquisition of five C-130J transport aircraft for the Humanitarian Assistance Disaster Relief operations of the Philippine Air Force.

The Department of Information and Communications will also be getting P3 billion for its national broadband program, for it to be able to set up a network to provide faster, efficient, and equitable broadband connectivity to the country.

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