President Rodrigo Duterte is expected to sign the proposed PHP4.1-trillion national budget on January 6, Malacañang said.
In a press conference with Palace reporters, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said there was information from Senate President Vicente Sotto III that the proposed budget plan for 2020 will be signed next Monday.
“Di ba sabi niya (Duterte) sa akin, January first week (He told me that he will sign it by first week of January),” Panelo recounted. “Ang sabi ni Senator Sotto, mukhang meron siyang (information) na January 6 (Senator Sotto, who appears to have received information, said it will be on January 6).”
Congress on Dec. 11 last year ratified the final version of the PHP4.1-trillion national budget bill for this year.
The pressure to pass the budget on time stemmed from the delayed passage of the 2019 budget that led to the national government’s utilization of a reenacted 2018 budget from January to mid-April last year.
The impending signing of the proposed budget spending for 2020 came despite Senator Panfilo Lacson’s recent claim that it contains around 1,253 budget items amounting to PHP83.219 billion which serve as congressmen’s “source” of their “list” of 742 projects worth PHP16.342 billion.
Lacson earlier alleged that provinces that had the biggest share of the alleged insertions are Albay (PHP670 million), Cavite (PHP580 million), Sorsogon (PHP570 million), Batangas (PHP502 million), Bulacan (PHP440 million), Pangasinan (PHP420 million), and Cebu (PHP410 million).
Panelo earlier guaranteed that Duterte would exercise his veto powers to remove the funds inserted in the proposed 2020 General Appropriations Act (GAA) that will be found unconstitutional.
In his latest remarks, the Palace official said he was not aware of whether there are provisions that might be vetoed by the President.
“Wala naman siyang binabanggit sa akin (He has not mentioned anything to me),” he said, when asked if the President is set to veto some unacceptable provisions of the proposed 2020 budget.
In the meantime, Duterte signed Republic Act 11464, which extends the validity of the 2019 national budget until Dec. 31, 2020 to allow the continuity of appropriation of unobligated funds.
There are still at least PHP1.161-trillion unobligated funds under the 2019 GAA.
About PHP324.758 billion of the PHP1.161-trillion unobligated funds are for maintenance and other operating expenses, while the remaining PHP339.53 billion is for capital outlays. (PNA)