Senate President Vicente Sotto III assured that the proposed PHP4.1 trillion national budget for 2020 would be passed on time as the Senate is on track in its calendar for the approval of next year’s budget.
“It was submitted on time. We are right on track of our timetable without sacrificing important issues being raised in the different departments,” Sotto said, noting that senators have been given ample time to bring up and clarify questionable or ambiguous provisions in the budget bill.
The Senate leader said plenary discussions on the budget measure, including the period of interpellation, individual amendments and committee amendments are expected to be completed by the last week of November.
“The Senate also expects to approve the proposed General Appropriations Bill (GAB) on second and third reading by next week,” he said.
Sotto also expressed optimism that the bicameral conference committee, which is expected to convene by the first week of December, would be able to reconcile the House and Senate versions of the budget in an expeditious, yet orderly manner.
“The bicameral debates will be unpredictable. We expect healthy debates among members of the bicameral panel as they thresh out and reconcile the differences in our respective versions of the measure. We hope they will remain level-headed and open-minded during the discussions,” Sotto said.
Congress is eyeing to have the proposed 2020 General Appropriations Act signed by President Rodrigo Duterte on December 20 before lawmakers go on break for the holidays. (PNA)