By Ellson Quismorio
A Deputy Speaker in the House of Representatives has guaranteed the quick passage of the 2020 national budget ahead of the chamber’s tackling of the vital measure.
“Yes, we will pass the budget on time I’m sure of that,” Surigao del Sur 2nd district Rep. Johnny Pimentel said.
“The Congress leadership is giving the early approval of the 2020 its utmost priority and the composition of Committee on Appropriations is almost complete,” Pimentel said.
Davao City 3rd district Rep. Isidro Ungab currently chairs the Appropriations panel that has 25 vice chairmen who help facilitate plenary debates on the budget on a per agency basis.
The proposed budget in the form of the 2020 National Expenditure Program (NEP) has to go through initial vetting by the Ungab panel. The first wave of House hearings on the matter will take place later this month.
The NEP is the basis for the General Appropriations Bill (GAB), or the proposed national budget. When enacted or turned into law, the GAB becomes known as the General Appropriations Act (GAA).
House Majority Floor Leader, Leyte 1st district Rep. Martin Romualdez earlier said that the Appropriations Committee would be completed just in time for Malacañang’s submission of the NEP.
“Congress is ready to deliberate on the budget as soon as the Executive has submitted the budget because until now we have not received the budget proposal of P4.2 trillion,” Pimentel said.
The passage of the P3.757-trillion GAA for 2019 was delayed forcing the government to operate on a reenacted budget for the first quarter. The unusual cash-based nature of the 2019 budget threw off most of the legislators, who were more used to an obligation-based budget scheme.
As for the significant increase in the budget for next year, the Mindanao lawmaker opined that it’s warranted given the infrastructure projects that are on deck.
“Yes, the significant increase is warranted considering that the administration will continue the ‘Build, Build, Build’ program,” Pimentel said.