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Budget signed by Duterte by yearend, nation assured

Lord Allan Velasco
Speaker Lord Allan Velasco

SPEAKER Lord Allan Velasco assured the public that the proposed 2021 national budget will be signed by President Rodrigo Duterte before the year ends.

This is to avoid a reenacted budget that will affect several programs of the government as well as slow down economic growth and the spending for the health problems the country is experiencing now.

“Our goal is to get the 2021 General Appropriations Bill (GAB) on the President’s desk for his signature before the year ends, so we can prevent a reenacted budget that will not bode well for the economy and the entire nation,” Velasco said.

The bicameral conference committee will convene anytime next week to reconcile the two versions of the GAB.

Pegged at P4.5 trillion the 2021 national budget is 9.9 percent higher than this year’s.

“We now look forward to sitting with our Senate counterparts in conference possibly starting next week to come up with a common version of the budget. We have already formed a contingent composed of 21 members from various political parties to represent the House during the bicameral conference on the 2021 budget bill,” Velasco added.

According to Velasco, the House contingent will make sure there will be enough funds for the government’s COVID-19 response, especially the procurement of vaccines for an initial 20 million poor Filipinos and eventually for at least 60 million of the population.

Velasco also assured the public of sufficient funding for the rehabilitation and recovery of communities devastated by recent typhoons, including Rolly and

Ulysses. “We should help our people rebuild their lives,” he said.

“Let us also not forget President Duterte’s other priority programs like Build, Build, Build and his anti-poverty projects. We must appropriate the funds needed to sustain them,” he also said.

The House contingent will be led by Chairman of the House committee on appropriations Rep. Eric Go Yap. He will be assisted, as co-chairmen, by Deputy Speakers Mikee Romero and Doy Leachon.

Also part of the 21-member panel are Majority Leader Martin Romualdez and Minority Leader Stephen Joseph Paduano.

Speaker Velasco earlier said the ratification of the 2021 national budget was high on the House agenda.

He said the record-high budget is the government’s “single-most powerful tool” to fight COVID-19 and help the economy and the people recover from the devastating impacts of the pandemic.

Just recently, Velasco said the House will seek an increase of at least P5 billion in the 2021 calamity fund for the reconstruction of areas devastated by recent strong typhoons.