The chairman of the House of Representatives’ committee on appropriations on Saturday expressed hope senators would exercise transparency over the bicameral conference committee-ratified 2019 national budget.
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“I am still hopeful that the senators will have a change of heart. Line-item budgeting is our response to the people’s demand for transparency and accountability in the national budget. Lump-sum funds are more prone to corruption and violate many tenets of transparent expenditure of public funds,” said Camarines Sur Rep. Rolando Andaya, Jr., the panel’s chairman.
Andaya said itemizing the lump sums-filled ratified version of the 2019 national budget was the lawmakers’ answer to the call for transparency and accountability in the appropriations bill.
“Line-item budgeting is our response to the people’s demand for transparency and accountability in the national budget,” he said.
Senator Panfilo Lacson, meanwhile, maintained the Senate would not adopt the version of the ratified budget bill with itemizations from the House of Representatives.
With this, Andaya reminded the Senate that both chambers of Congress had until May to complete the task of enacting the General Appropriations Act for 2019.
“Both chambers will resume legislative session on May 20 until June 7. That is our last chance to pass the national budget,” he said.
“I am still hopeful that the senators will have a change of heart,” Andaya added.
Andaya also reiterated the position of the House leaderahip led by Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo against a reenacted budget.
“The House of Representatives is against a reenacted budget at this point. I hope the Senate shares this sentiment,” Andaya said.
He also said the House should not be faulted for the delay in the enactment of the money measure.
“The House of Representatives has done its duty. Your district representatives have approved the national budget for 2019 in accordance with all the agreements forged with senators during the bicameral conference committee meetings,” Andaya said.
Andaya added: “The enrolled copy of the 2019 General Appropriations Bill has been signed by the Speaker and the Secretary General of the House of Representatives.
“It has been transmitted to the Senate for the signature of the Senate President. A copy of the enrolled bill was also sent to Malacanang and the Department of Budget and Management for their information and so that they will have a proper appreciation of the issues at hand based on an official document and not from uninformed innuendoes.”
He said Congress had until May to enact the proposed P3.757-trillion national budget for this year.
“If the Senate is indeed serious in enacting a General Appropriations Act for 2019, we have until May this year to complete our task. Both chambers will resume legislative session on May 20 until June 7. That is our last chance to pass the national budget,” Andaya said.
Congress adjourned its session last Feb. 10 to give way to the election campaign period for the midterm polls on May 13. It will resume seasion on May 20.