President Rodrigo R. Duterte certified the proposed PHP4.1 trillion national budget for 2020 as urgent to avoid a repeat of last year’s delay, Malacañang said on Thursday.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said Duterte’s reason for calling for the immediate enactment of House Bill No. 4228 or the General Appropriation Bill (GAB) for Fiscal Year 2020 was for lawmakers to understand the importance of its timely passage.
“In certifying to urgency of the budget bill, PRRD wants to convey to the members of Congress the importance of passing the General Appropriations Bill on time to avoid a repeat of a reenacted budget that wreaked havoc to the economic program of this Administration, affected the timely delivery of basic services to the people, and ultimately, slowed our growth during the first quarter of this year,” Panelo said in a statement.
“Government operations must never be hampered and our constitutional mandate to serve the Filipino people must prevail over partisan considerations and constant differences or varying interpretations on the budget,” he added.
At the start of the year, the government operated on a reenacted budget after lawmakers failed to pass the bill on time last year, due to allegations of pork “insertions”.
The passage of the 2019 budget was delayed further due to allegations of realignments made by the House of Representatives after both chambers of Congress ratified the bicameral conference committee report.
Last March, Duterte said operating on a reenacted budget would deal a blow on the country’s growth rate and that “everyone will suffer including law enforcement authorities.”
It was only on April 15 that the 2019 General Appropriations Act (Republic Act 11260) was passed.
On Tuesday, the House of Representatives began plenary deliberations on the proposed 2020 budget.
House Appropriations Committee chairman Isidro Ungab, who sponsored the proposed budget, called on his colleagues to support its timely passage.
Albay Rep. Joey Salceda, chair of the House Committee on Ways and Means, earlier said the House of Representatives expects to pass the budget bill on second reading on Friday, September 20.
Salceda expressed hope that the Senate would also pass the proposed budget as early as possible to prove that Duterte’s allies are “working”.
“We just wanna prove that the ‘Duterte Super Coalition’ in the House is working, and I hope the so-called ‘Duterte Super Coalition of 20’ in the Senate will do the same,” he added. (PNA)
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