Senator Imee Marcos has asked her fellow lawmakers to prioritize the country’s COVID-19 response in coming up with the final version of the 2021 General Appropriations Bill (GAB).
Marcos on Saturday said she is very hopeful that the upcoming meetings between senators and congressmen on their respective amendments on the P4.5-trillion proposed national budget for next year go smoothly and will not cause any delay in the bill’s final approval in Congress.
“We cannot afford a budget delay,” Marcos, one of the members of the Senate panel in bicameral committee that would take up the GAB, said in an interview over radio DWIZ.
Marcos, a former congresswoman, said she understands if members of the House of Representatives would insist on the allocation for their districts in the budget bill.
‘Pag nasa Kongreso ka, talaga inaantay ay ‘yong project na i-uuwi mo (If you are in the House, what the people would want from you are the projects that you would bring home). Kaya ‘yong sinasabi na very parochial interest, eh talaga namang iyan ang trabaho mo…makatulong ka sa mga botante mo sa distrito mo (That’s why I understand what they where describing as very parochial interests, because your job is to really help your voters in your districts), your contituents,” she said.
“I can put myself in their place very easily because I was there for years,” she added.
Marcos, however, said her colleagues should also be reminded that “there are great overarching national interest at hand that need to be addressed.”
“Hindi naman masama ‘yong parochial interest, hindi ako naniniwala na pulos raket ‘yan o puro scam (Parochial interests are not bad, I don’t believe that they are full of rackets or scam)…but I think in the process of trying to give every district its due [budget], there should still be the major objective of finishing the budget quickly on time and responsive to the pandemic,” she said.
She said the national budget should not anymore be business-as-usual, lamenting that the expenditure plan submitted by the executive department to Congress seemed to have been prepared “before COVID-19.”
The bicam is set to start discussing the differing provisions of the Senate and House’s respective budget bills this coming week.