By Hannah Torregoza
Senator Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara on May 6, Wednesday, projected that the proposed General Appropriations Act (GAA) for 2021 would reach P5 trillion since the government has to allocate funds to stimulate the economy in light of the negative impact of the novel coronavirus or COVID-19 to the country.
Angara, who chairs the Senate committee on finance, said he believes next year’s budget would be a “stimulus budget” and a large chunk of the national expenditure program (NEP) would be used to spur economic recovery.
“I think the stimulus budget would be close to P5-trillion, assuming we go by the usual increase,” Angara said in a virtual interview.
“Of course, a large chunk of that would be personnel services, but the non-personnel items, I think, even the infrastructure, will be tied towards providing stimulus,” he stressed.
“I think any stimulus now, will have to look at a longer timeline. Because, anywhere from six months to a year, I think is what we should be looking at,” the senator added.
Angara also predicted that lawmakers would be seeing more emphasis on the public health sector once the proposed national budget is submitted to Congress.
“Probably we will review the budget of PhilHealth, the government assistance for premiums and also the improvement of government health facilities nationwide,” he pointed out.
He also said the 2021 national budget might also include a clause that would authorize President Duterte to realign some items as needed, similar to a provision in the “Bayanihan to Heal as One” Act.