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Budget issues expected to be settled during bicam

A HOUSE leader has expressed confidence that congressmen and senators will be able to settle all issues pertaining to the proposed P4.506-trillion national budget during the bicameral conference committee.

“The proposed 2021 national budget will still go through a bicameral conference where the Senate and the House will reconcile their versions,” said Deputy Speaker and Buhay Hayaang Yumabong (Buhay) party-list Rep. Lito Atienza. “We are confident that all these issues about the budget will be threshed out during the bicam.”

Atienza issued the statement following Sen. Panfilo “Ping” Lacson’s revelations about the multibillion-peso infrastructure projects in congressional districts found in the 2021 General Appropriations Bill (GAB).

Lacson has flagged the huge amount of infrastructure projects allocated in each congressional district, ranging from P600 million to P15.351 billion with at least 220 districts lodged with over P1 billion under the 2021 national budget.

Atienza said Lacson’s observations were “duly noted” and that the House delegation will discuss the matter with senators during the bicameral conference on the 2021 GAB.

“We have to remember that the 2021 GAB was almost or already complete even before President Duterte called for a four-day special session to approve it on final reading last month,” said Probinsyano Ako Rep. Jose “Bonito” Singson Jr.

Singson added “it’s understandable if there were items in the GAB that may have been overlooked during the special session “given the very short deadline.”

“Anyway, this matter will surely be taken up during the bicam before Congress comes up with the final version of the 2021 national budget,” he stressed.

Meanwhile, Negros Oriental 3rd District Rep. Arnolfo “Arnie” Teves Jr. noted that the budget discussion has been a contentious issue before.

It will be recalled that during the committee deliberations on the budget of the Department of Public Works and Highways in September, Teves decried what he then described as “unequal distribution” of DPWH funds to various districts in the country.