The proposed PHP4.1-trillion national budget for 2020 should be signed by mid-December to ensure that government projects particularly those that create more jobs will not be hampered, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said.
Nograles made this remark after plenary debates on the proposed 2020 budget started in the Senate after its approval at the Lower House on third reading.
The General Appropriations Act (GAA) would next undergo thorough examination before it reaches the Senate.
“We fully expect President Duterte to sign the General Appropriations Acts by mid-December,” Nograles said in a statement.
“The members of the Senate promised that they would give priority to the budget’s approval. We’re hoping the Senators ensure that last year’s delays would not happen again,” he added.
The 2019 budget of PHP3.7 trillion was signed by the President only last April after Congress failed to pass the legislation due to a budget impasse involving alleged pork insertions.
He said any delays in the budget would negatively affect the economy and government projects, particularly on sectors involved in job generation, livelihood creation, and anti-poverty efforts.
“We are fully expecting that Congress would support the expansion of programs that would address poverty concerns in 32 priority provinces targeted by the Enhanced Partnership Against Hunger and Poverty (EPAHP),” Nograles said.
The 2020 budget will fund education and health needs of schoolchildren as well as free insurance coverage under the Universal Health Care Act.
Once approved by the Senate, the 2020 GAA would immediately undergo bicameral discussions and would be sent to President Rodrigo Duterte for signing.
On Monday, House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano said congressmen are adhering to Senate finance committee chair Sonny Angara’s timeline that would have the General Appropriations Bill (GAB) on the desk of the President by the middle or “third week of December at the latest.”
Cayetano said the early passage of the national budget will also give the House of Representatives more time to pass other priority measures before the December 18 Christmas. (PNA)