Panel to fast-track 2020 national budget

Alan Peter S. Cayetano

THE House Committee on Appropriations will conduct hearings on the 2020 proposed P4.1-trillion national budget from Monday to Friday, starting on August 22, to ensure its timely passage. 

Davao City Rep. Isidro Ungab, the panel chairman, said the hearings will be done after the formal submission of the National Expenditure Program (NEP) to House members led by Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano by Budget and Management Acting Secretary Wendel Avisado, on tomorrow.

The House Press and Public Affairs Bureau (PPAB) announced that the budget submission will be video streamed live to enable public viewing of the event.

“We will do our best to approve the budget on time and exercise our constitutional duty to scrutinize the budget to make sure that every peso that we appropriate will contribute to the overall growth and development of the country,” said Ungab.

He said the appropriations committee hopes to finish the budget hearings by second week of September and start plenary deliberations as soon as the panel approves its committee report.

The target date for third and final reading passage of the General Appropriations Bill (GAB) is on October 4 before the congressional recess, Ungab said.

Per the committee’s schedule, the budget hearings will kick off on Thursday, August 22, at 9 am with a briefing of the Development Budget  Coordination  Committee (DBCC), the inter-agency body that determines the overall economic targets, expenditure levels and budget of the government. The DBCC is composed of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), Department of Finance (DOF), and Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP).

Then on Friday, August 23, the appropriations committee will review the budget proposals of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) and the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR).

In its earlier media releases, the DBM said the 2020 national budget has the theme “Continuing the Journey to a More Peaceful and Progressive Philippines” as it aims to “sustain the tremendous progress that the Philippines has made as a nation during the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte. The theme is also consistent with the administration’s goal of becoming a middle-income country where no one lacks opportunities, the DBM said.

Moreover, the DBM said the 2020 cash appropriations will prioritize the acceleration of infrastructure, anti-poverty, and pro-employment spending. It cited that the Build, Build, Build Program will continue to be the flagship program of the Duterte administration’s infrastructure development reaching around P1.8 trillion, or 6.9 percent of the country’s GDP by 2022.