President Rodrigo Duterte has certified as urgent the proposed P4.1-trillion national budget for 2020.
In his letter to the leaders of the House of Representatives and the Senate, the President said the timely passage of next year’s General Appropriations Act is crucial to “maintain continuous government operations.”
The government was forced to run on a reenacted budget this year for four months following wrangling among lawmakers over alleged insertions in the national spending plan.
The 2020 budget, Duterte said, will “expedite the funding of various programs and projects and will ensure budgetary preparedness that will enable the government to effectively perform its constitutional mandate.”
At the Lower House, Deputy Speakers Michael Romero of 1-Pacman Party-list and Luis Raymund Villafuerte of Camarines Sur said the money measure will be passed on second reading on Friday (Sept. 20).
“We can no longer afford to lose P77 billion per month because of the economic slow down triggered by the delayed implementation of the national budget. It has become imperative for us to make sure that each day of the coming year’s government operations is covered by the provisions of the 2020 General Appropriations Act,” said Romero, president of the the Party-list Coalition Foundation Inc.
Romero noted that this year’s budget delay had cost the government the equivalent of P463.6 billion in economic losses during the first six months of 2019 alone.
Villafuerte, deputy speaker for finance, said the House is expected to pass the budget bill on third and final reading before Congress goes on a Halloween break on Oct. 4.
For his part, Albay Rep. Joey Salceda said lawmakers will get an allocation of P100 million each under the proposed money measure.
“The executive [branch] determined the allocations,” he said, adding that P70 million will be allotted for “hard” or infrastructure projects while the remaining P30 million will be for “soft” projects such as medical or educational assistance.
Salceda, however, said the allocations are not “pork” as the P100 million is not a lump-sum amount.
“It is pork-free based on Supreme Court standards,” Salceda said.