House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano expressed hope that the proposed PHP4.1-trillion 2020 national budget bill will be signed earlier than expected next month.
In a press conference, 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 Dec. 18 Christmas break.
He 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 President Rodrigo Duterte by the middle or “third week of December at the latest”.
“But kami, kung kayang hatakin pa, kasi Dec. 18 ang break (But for us, if we could make it earlier, since the break is on Dec. 18), so if this is finished by Dec. 5, we have 10 days or 6 session days for other bills. We want to finish 2019 and enter 2020 with most of the priorities passed already,” Cayetano said.
Cayetano said the House small group, which accepted individual amendments to the GAB, will meet on Tuesday to decide whether to have a bigger budget group to help the House Committee on Appropriations for the bicam.
The Senate officially started its plenary debates on the proposed 2020 national budget on Monday.
Angara has emphasized the importance of passing the national budget on time “especially with what happened with the economy this year due to the delay in the approval of the 2019 General Appropriations Act”.
“So critical is the GAA in fact that because we failed to pass it on time during the previous budget cycle, the country paid a price,” Angara said.
He said one adverse impact of the delayed approval of the 2019 budget is a slower GDP (gross domestic product) growth rate in the first half of the year.
“Another was that construction and repairs of thousands of classrooms were delayed, as were tuition fees of thousands of government scholars across the country,” Angara said. (PNA)