By Hannah Torregoza
Senate finance committee chief Senator Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara on Sunday said he is confident there would be no delays in the passage of the proposed P4.1-trillion national budget for 2020, despite the arguments of a few Senate and House members on the budget bill.
“Passing it on time is our number one goal this year. It’s important that before December 30-31, we have already passed the 2020 national budget so that by January, we already have a budget,” Angara said in an interview over GMANews.TV.
Angara said they have increased the number of sub-committees to expedite the review of all agencies and department budgets.
“We have nine (subcommittees)—headed by nine vice chairpersons—I’m the 10th—so we are running on 10 pistons,” he assured.
“When it comes to fine-tuning the budget, the Senate is a V-10 engine. When I assumed the chairmanship, I said that if we want to turbocharge our performance , then let us create more sub-committees. We have Monday to Friday hearings,” Angara noted.
Angara added that if the senators are multi-tasking they are not only fast, but everyone becomes more careful and more orderly in scrutinizing the budget.
“But we don’t sacrifice tough scrutiny for speed. When we come back from our recess on the first week of November, plenary na kami. So it will be a working recess for us,” he said.
“Sarado ang showroom ng Senado, meaning the plenary, pero ang workshops, ang committees , like Finance, will be working,” added the senator.
As to the word war between Senators Panfilo “Ping” Lacson and Franklin Drilon with Rep. Fredenil Castro and other House lawmakers, Angara said such disagreements are expected during budget hearings.
But making sure the national budget is compliant with the Constitution is important, Angara said.
“At the end of the day, dapat compliant ang budget sa sinabi ng Supreme Court. Yun ang importante. Yung mga sagutan, minsan hindi nakakatulong, kasi minsan nakakatagal ng usapan (the budget must be consistent with the Supreme Court ruling. That is what’s important. The word war, sometimes, doesn’t help, because a lot of times it contributes to the delay in discussions),” he stressed.
Angara warned that the delay in approving the budget would impact the country’s economy.
“Six months we worked on a reenacted budget. We had no new construction projects. And we really saw how our economic growth suffered because of this,” he pointed out.