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House sets ultimatum on 2019 budget

The House of Representatives is  expected to pass the proposed P3.757-trillion national budget for 2019 on third and final reading on Nov. 28.

Compostela Valley Rep. Maria Carmen Zamora, main plenary sponsor of the national budget and a senior vice chairperson of the House committee on appropriations, said the small committee tasked to resolve the amendments to House Bill No. 8169 or the national budget has yet to put  the finishing touches on the National Expenditure Program.

“We’re at the final stages of reconciling differences and amendments to the budget. And after that, we need to get the budget printed. Our target for third reading [approval] is on Nov. 28,” Zamora said.

“Unfortunately, we’re still quite in the thick of the amendments. Due to the volume of the amendments requested and agreed upon during the debates over HB No. 8169 alone, combined with the different agencies’ concerns, we’re still going through items,” she added.

House Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo gave the assurance that there would be no more reenacted budget in 2019.

“The small committee has been working with the secretariat day in and out. But it’s really a consuming process. Rest assured that we will pass the national budget in time for next year,” Zamora said.

House Majority Leader and Camarines Sur Rep. also said Rolando Andaya Jr. that Congress is already finalizing the national budget.

“We would like to convey our assurance to the Senate that the 2019 national budget bill will be transmitted as soon as we are done with our rigorous double-checking and verification of the thousands of line items in a spending measure that will cost taxpayers almost P3.8 trillion,” he said.

“We believe that we all have sufficient time in our legislative calendar to pass the budget and send it to President [Rodrigo] Duterte before the end of the year. We are reiterating our strong position against a reenacted budget because such will be hard to implement, will constrict spending, and will give wide latitude and discretion to the executive on what projects to implement,” he cited.

The delayed approval of the national budget stemmed from the alleged P52-billion insertions of the Congress under the House leadership of Davao del Norte Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez.

Topics: Gloria Macapagal Arroyo , Pantaleon Alvarez , Maria Carmen Zamora , Rolando Andaya Jr , National Expenditure Program
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