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House sends budget to Senate next week

THE House of Representatives will transmit to the Senate by next week the proposed 2021 national budget.

Speaker Lord Allan Velasco said he already committed to Senate President Tito Sotto the immediate submission of the General Appropriations Act in order to avoid a reenacted budget.

The original date of submission is November 5 but senators warned that they might not finish the deliberation on time.

“I had a quick talk with Senate President Sotto, he told me that if we transmitted on November 5 that would be quite hard for them to finish on time. So we agreed on October 28, best effort of the House,” Velasco said.

On Friday night, the House of Representatives approved the proposed national budget for next year pegged at P4.5 trillion.

Earlier, chairman of the House committee on appropriations Eric Go Yap also committed early submission of the appropriations measure to the Senate.

After it was approved on final reading, Velasco formed a small committee that would discuss amendments.

Velasco then clarified that only departments and agencies that need augmentation of budget will be entertained in the discussion.

He said during the four-day marathon hearings they saw the need to make some amendments.

One of the items that needed to be augmented is the funds for the procurement of coronavirus disease (COVId-19) vaccines.

In the proposal, the budget for the purchase of vaccine is P2.5 billion which is not enough for the target of 20 million poorest Filipinos.

“So definitely that’s one of the things that we add on to. Mainly because I believe that the President already announced that 20 million people should be vaccinated,” he said.

During yesterday’s meeting of the small committee, members expressed confidence in submitting a budget with only few amendments.

The members agreed to consider only institutional amendments and some department errata.

“The probability of reenactment is zero and it empowers the government to confront socioeconomic impacts of pandemic,” they said.