THE P5.042-trillion 2022 budget remains largely focused on bringing about a recovery led by infrastructure and social spending after progressing to plenary debate Tuesday with no changes from the version passed at committee level, key legislators said.

“We shall remain focused on ensuring that the programs and projects for infrastructure development and human capital development will (be passed) by this Congress,” ACT-CIS Rep. Eric G. Yap, chairman of the House appropriations committee, said in his sponsorship speech.

According to the committee report on House Bill 10153, or the 2022 General Appropriations Bill, no amendments were made by the appropriations panel.

Plenary deliberations on the proposed 2022 budget will be run until Sept. 30 to discuss spending plans of various government agencies. The timetable includes the period of amendments, according to the schedule sent to reporters.

Mr. Yap told reporters that he will ask President Rodrigo R. Duterte to certify the budget as urgent to ensure its timely approval. Such a certification under House rules eliminates mandatory waiting periods between the various stages of approval.

He said on Aug. 21 that he expects the budget to be approved by the House by the end of the month, which is just before legislators suspend session for the filing of certificates of candidacy for the upcoming national elections.

“We are hopeful to pass the (General Appropriations Bill) before the adjournment and the possibility that the President will certify it as an urgent measure will help expedite its approval on third and final reading,” House Majority Leader and Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez said.

Marikina Rep. Stella Luz A. Quimbo said during the plenary that she will propose amendments to the budget bill to ensure sufficient funding for pandemic-related items such as allowances for healthcare workers and medicine kits for home care patients.

Infrastructure spending is expected to be allocated about P1.18 trillion, with the government counting on public works to drive the recovery.

The 2022 budget, if passed, is 11.5% higher than this year’s P4.506-trillion spending plan. — Russell Louis C. Ku