Budget okay before Xmas break assured

December 01, 2019

THE chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations on Sunday assured the ratification of the proposed P4.1-trillion national budget before Congress goes on Christmas break starting December 21, saying the House and Senate staffs were very busy over the weekend preparing the working figures that the bicameral conference committee would reconcile.

Davao City Rep. Isidro Ungab, who chairs the panel, said this after the bicameral conference committee of next year’s national budget met briefly last Friday to authorize him and Sen. Sonny Angara, who chairs the Senate Committee on Finance, to meet one-on-one and harmonize the conflicting provisions of next year’s national budget.

“We are still studying the budget as approved on final reading by the Senate. Over the weekend, House and Senate staffs were busy preparing the figures for our meeting with my Senate counterpart, Sen. Angara,” said Ungab who led the House contingent to the bicameral conference committee last Friday at the Manila Polo Club in Makati City to reconcile the 2020 national budget.

Angara said he is sure the 2020 national budget will “smooth-sail” in the bicameral conference committee.

“I think (the passage of 2020 national budget) will be smoother,” said Angara.

In an ambush interview with reporters last Friday at the bicameral conference committee, Sen. Panfilo “Ping” Lacson bared that the Senate reduced the Departments of Transportation (DOTr) and of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).

Lacson said the Senate moved to increase the budget of the Departments of Defense (DND) and Health (DoH) to cover the higher pay for nurses.

Like Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, an independent minority congressman who moved for the one-on-one meeting, Ungab said the proposal for him and Angara to meet and address the disagreeing provisions of the 2020 national budget was “consistent with tradition” to expedite the passage of the national budget.

“Having one-on-one discussions between the two chairmen before the bicameral panel meet to finalize it’s bicameral conference committee report will help expedite the process of enacting the budget,” said Ungab who assured the timely passage of the national budget and its submission for immediate ratification.

Earlier, House Majority Leader and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez, who chairs the powerful House Committee on Rules, led the House contingent in seconding the motion of Lagman to allow Ungab and Angara to resolve by themselves the disagreeing provisions of the 2020 national budget.

“We authorize them (Ungab and Angara) to meet one-on-one to address the conflicting provisions of the national budget for next year. This will help expedite the approval of our money measure,” said Romualdez.

“Let me reiterate, the money measure that we passed under the leadership of Speaker [Alan] Cayetano will marshal a budget for a meaningful change and a reflection not only of the President’s vision to make the life of Filipinos better, but also of the people’s will,” Romualdez stressed.

“I remind everybody not to be swayed by the cauldron issue and instead focus on the biennial regional multi-sport event,” said Barzaga, who chairs the House Committee on Natural Resources, who also suggested an increase in the cash incentives of the winning athletes.