Reconciliation of the House of Representatives and Senate versions of the proposed P4.509 trillion national budget for 2021 is expected to proceed smoothly as contingents of the two chambers agreed to submit the final copy of the 2021 General Appropriation Act before adjournment of Congress on December 19.
ACT CIS Partylist Rep. Eric Yap, head of the House contingent, held a one-on-one meeting with his Senate counterpart, Senator Juan Edgardo Angara to initially thresh out the differences in their respective versions of the budget bill.
Yap, chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations, said both the House and Senate contingents agreed on the need to conclude the bicam deliberations this week to avert having government operate under a reenacted budget by January.
“Our goal is to finish the budget this week, by Friday,” Yap said during the bicam meeting held at Shangri-La Hotel in Makati City.
He added: “Our goal is ultimately the same: to have appropriate funding for COVID-19 vaccines and to allocate budget for regions severely affected by calamities.”
The House official assured the public that there were no irregularities in the proposed 2021 GAA, saying that the same assurance goes to the allocation of the infrastructure budget.
“All I see are Multi-Purpose Buildings that can be converted into quarantine facilities. I see budget for building necessary infrastructure such as schools and hospitals. The rest are road networks, valid projects under President Rodrigo Duterte’s Build Build Build program,” Yap pointed out.
Yap was also hopeful that the Senate could accommodate Speaker Lord Allan Velasco’s request for a P5-billion increase in calamity fund for the reconstruction of areas devastated by recent typhoons, as well as additional funding for the purchase of COVID-19 vaccines.
The partylist solon aired the confidence that the budget measure will be presented for signature by President Duterte by Christmas day.
“We will need three to five days to encode any amendments, then another week to print the budget,” Yap said.
“We are hoping for this to be a Christmas present to the President and ultimatel, the Filipino people,” he added.