Ungab bewails ‘withdrawal’ of budget bill

September 02, 2019

THE withdrawal of the General Appropriations Bill (GAB) from the plenary will “derail” the 2020 national budget, House Committee on Appropriations chairman and Davao City Rep. Isidro Ungab warned as he strongly opposed Deputy Speaker LRay Villafuerte’s pulling out of the budget bill for the purpose of amending it.

“Your proposal to withdraw and amend the General Appropriations Bill for FY (fiscal year) 2020 will definitely derail the schedule and approval of the budget,” Ungab said.

“To prepare another set of General Appropriations Bill will require enormous time, efforts and resources that will surely affect or delay the passage of the 2020 Budget,” Ungab said in his letter to Villafuerte.

Ungab shared to the media the copy of his letter enumerating circumstances of budget deliberation.

The proposed national budget for 2020 is P4.1 trillion.

The GAB or House Bill 4228 was supposed to be read and passed on first reading in the plenary on August 28 but Villafuerte withdrew it allegedly upon orders of Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano.

In his letter, Ungab told Villafuerte that the printing of the GAB by Apo Production Unit Inc. and the National Economic and Development Authority was almost finished and copies could be immediately distributed to members of the House of Representatives once delivered.

Any “alteration” to the National Expenditure Program (NEP) submitted by the Department of Budget and Management would “surely raise doubts [and questions] on our proceedings,” Ungab added.

Based on the appropriations committee’s schedule, the last budget briefing day is set on September 6, and the preparation of the committee report would be on September 10.

Plenary deliberations are also scheduled to start on September 12 until October 4.

Earlier, Speaker Cayetano said they will pass on third and final reading the 2020 budget before going on a break.

According to Villafuerte, filing on first reading was “premature” considering that all departments and other agencies of the government have yet to finish presenting their respective budget proposals at the committee level.

While the House leadership is “fully committed” to having the 2020 GAB passed on time, it assured the public that there is no illegal pork barrel and pork parking.