The House of Representatives is eyeing Sept. 30 as the target date for the passage of the proposed P5.024 trillion national budget for 2022.
Speaker Lord Allan Velasco on Thursday, Aug. 26 said the Lower House should work swiftly and smoothly to pursue this goal in order to avoid a re-enacted spending program and pave the way for an uninterrupted government operations as the nation faces the threat of COVID-19 pandemic.
“We, in the House of Representatives, need to get our act together to ensure swift and smooth passage of the 2022 national budget in order for the government to continue operating and provide much-needed services to the Filipino people as it is expected to,” Velasco said.
The House leader issued the statement as soon as the Committee on Appropriations chaired by ACT-CIS Partylist Rep. Eric Yap, kicked off its deliberations on the last full-year budget to be enacted under the administration of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte.
“Our aim is to pass the House version of the 2022 national budget by September 16 to give the Senate ample time to go over the budget and come up with its own version in time for the October filing of certificates of candidacy for all elective positions for the May 2022 elections,” Velasco said.
The speaker said the Lower House’s ultimate goal is for President Duterte to sign the 2022 General Appropriations Act by December to prevent a reenacted budget that could slow economic growth and hamper the delivery of government services.
The executive department had delayed the transmission to Congress of the proposed 2022 National Expenditure Program and was heavily criticized in the Lower House for it.
House Deputy Minority leader and Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate and Bayan Muna Chairman Neri Colmenares aired fears that the the “belated” submission to Congress of the budget proposal may result to railroading and deny the people of assurance that it will be carefully scrutinized.
“This is not an ordinary measure where the process can be short circuited or taken via short cuts.This is the highest national budget ever and the budget for an election year at that. We cannot sacrifice the quality of analyzing it even if they submitted it just yesterday because it will mean surrendering outright Congress’ power of the purse,” said Zarate.
The P5.024 trillion is equivalent to 22.8 percent of the country’s gross domestic product and is higher by 11.5 percent than the current 2021 national budget.
By sector, social services sector receives the biggest chunk of 2022 NEP with P1.922 trillion, which will fund health-related services such as continued implementation of the Universal Health Care Act, purchase of COVID-19 vaccines, procurement of personal protective equipment, among others. Education-related programs, including the implementation of the Universal Access to Tertiary Education, is also prioritized.
Next is the economic services sector, which gets P1.474 trillion largely to support flagship programs under the Build, Build, Build infrastructure program.
The general public services sector is allocated with P862.7 billion, debt burden with P541.3 billion, and defense sector with P224.4 billion.
Among the departments and agencies, the education sector covering the Department of Education, State Universities and Colleges and the Commission on Higher Education receives the highest allocation with P773.6 billion. This is followed by the Department of Public Works and Highways with P6.86.1 billion; Department of the Interior and Local Government, P250.4 billion; Department of Health and Philippine Health Insurance Corp., P242 billion; PLDepartment of National Defense, P222 billion; Department of Social Welfare and Development, P191.4 billion; Department of Transportation, P151.3 billion; Department of Agriculture and National Irrigation Authority, P103.5 billion; the Judiciary, P45 billion; and Department of Labor and Employment, P44.9 billion.